Overview of Radiotherapy for Cancer

Radiotherapy for cancer, also known as radiation therapy for cancer, is one of the most common cancer treatments in which high doses of radiation with intense energy are used to destroy the DNA of cancer cells, thereby killing them and inhibiting their growth. Radiotherapy for cancer is useful for the treatment of almost all types of cancer whether primary or advanced. Radiotherapy can also be used to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by cancer cells in the body. It kills cancer cells while causing the least amount of harm to neighboring healthy cells.


Alternate name

Radiation therapy

Body location

Anybody part

How is radiotherapy for cancer performed?

External or internal beam therapy may be used by the radiation oncologist for the treatment of cancer. In external beam therapy, a linear accelerator is used which moves around the patient’s body. The machine transmits high-energy radiation to the specific body part, destroying the cancer cells. Radiation therapy for cancer course is usually spaced out over a period of a few weeks so your healthy cells have a chance to recover between treatments. During the therapy, patients will be lying still and breathing normally.

Internal beam therapy, also known as brachytherapy, involves putting the source of radiation inside the patient's body. The source can be sealed in wires, needles, capsules, or seeds and implanted directly into the cancer site or near it. It can be left inside on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the type of cancer to be treated. Brachytherapy is commonly used for the treatment of breast, cervix, uterus, head and neck, eye, and prostate cancer.


A health care professional will help the patient walk through the process of preparation for undergoing radiation therapy for cancer. The planning may entail the following:

  • CT scans: It may be required to perform some scans to determine the exact site in the body which requires treatment.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing: It is ideal to arrive for the therapy in loose clothing. Patients may be asked to wear the gown before treatment begins, so wear something that is easy to remove or change.
  • Lying still:  The patient remains motionless while the radiation is being delivered, so find a comfortable position before the start of the therapy and discuss with the doctor any physical concerns beforehand.
  • Markings or tattoos: to align the machine with the site of treatment, patients may receive some temporary markings with a marker or small permanently tattooed dots in some cases.
  • Remember, the therapy session is painless.

Procedure type

Non-invasive procedure

Follow up

Patients will be provided with a follow-up procedure by their doctor post-radiotherapy for cancer treatment. Regular appointments may be scheduled to see the radiation oncologist. Additionally, a physical examination, CT scan, or other tests to measure how well cancer has responded to the therapy might also be required. Cancer may respond to the treatment instantly, or, in some cases, the response may be seen after a few weeks or months. Follow-up appointments allow you to talk about any issues or concerns that have arisen. It is important to keep up with the after-care procedure to check how recovery is going and also keep an eye out for any side effects which may not appear straight away.


Following are the possible risks associated with radiotherapy for cancer:

  • Fatigue: many patients may feel exhausted or tired after the treatment.
  • Skin changes: some people might experience changes in skin like drying, itching, or skin peeling post-treatment.
  • Hair loss: the therapy can lead to hair loss or thinning in the area of treatment.

Other side-effects may include nausea, changes in blood count, dry mouth, sore throat, etc. The majority of adverse effects are manageable and will fade away after the treatment ends.


The path to recovery can be influenced by a lot of factors including age, type of cancer, and type of treatment. However, certain things can be taken care of to speed up the time of recovery. It is important to take proper rest, eat a nutritious diet, and keep yourself hydrated. The affected skin must be least exposed to sunlight and lotions to heal the skin can be used, but they must be approved by the oncologist. If one is under emotional distress, it is crucial to seek emotional support. There are professionals available online and offline to help with any mental health assistance.

Our Medical Experts

If you are facing any similar signs or symptoms please contact the Nanavati Max team to schedule an appointment at : +91 22 6836 0000

Feedback Icon - Nanavati-Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle(W), Mumbai, India Give Feedback

Our Doctors

View All Doctors  

Blog & Events

View All Blog  

Appointment Book Icon - Nanavati-Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle(W), Mumbai, India Second Opinion Expert
Doctor Icon - Nanavati-Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle(W), Mumbai, India Find Doctors
Phone Icon - Nanavati-Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle(W), Mumbai, India Contact Us

Find a Conditions

Find a Doctor


Browse Treatment By A-Z


Ask Nanavati Max Hospital

Fill this form and get a call back