About pelvic radiotherapy

Radiotherapy treats cancer by using high-energy rays to destroy the cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to healthy cells. 

In men, pelvic radiotherapy can be used to treat cancer of the:

  • prostate gland
  • bladder
  • rectum
  • or anus.

In women, pelvic radiotherapy can be used to treat cancer of the:

  • cervix
  • womb
  • vulva
  • vagina
  • bladder
  • rectum
  • anus.

Radiotherapy can be given either from outside the body (externally) or from inside the body (internally). Some people are treated with a combination of both methods.

Your course of radiotherapy will be prescribed by a cancer specialist (clinical oncologist). This is a doctor who specialises in the use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The person who operates the machines and helps position you before each treatment is called a radiographer.

The pelvis

The pelvis is the area in the lower part of the tummy (abdomen) between the hips. It contains:

  • the lower end of the large bowel (the colon, rectum and anus) and part of the small bowel (see diagram below)
  • the sexual organs
  • lymph nodes (glands)
  • the pelvic bones.
The large bowel and rectum
The large bowel and rectum

View a large version

Read a description of this image

In men the sexual organs in the pelvis are the; prostate gland, testicles, penis and bladder (see diagram).

The male pelvic area
The male pelvic area

View a large version

Read a description of this image

In women the sexual organs are the; ovaries, fallopian tubes, womb (uterus), cervix and vagina (see diagram below).

The female pelvic area
The female pelvic area

View a large version

Read a description of this image

Back to Pelvic radiotherapy explained

After pelvic radiotherapy

Your radiotherapy team will explain any follow-up you need, how they can help and how you can help yourself.