All about radiotherapy

Cancer Treatment: IMRT (Radiation Therapy)
Cancer Treatment: IMRT (Radiation Therapy)
If you like this animation, LIKE us on Facebook: This 3D medical animation describes the process of intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, including the use of CT scans and the linac machine. Intensity modeled radiation therapy is a procedure used to treat certain forms of cancer, to kill cancer or control cancer growth. Cells in the body grow and divide as part of the normal cell cell cycles, when cells become cancerous however they can continue to grow uncontrollably. Radiation can be used to kill cancer. Intensity modulated radiation therapy can be used to deliver a higher does of radiation to the the cancer cells while sparing the healthy tissue around the cancer cells.



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Radiotherapy is the use of radiation, usually x-rays, to treat an illness such as cancer. Combined with surgery and chemotherapy, it can be one of the main treatments used to tackle cancer. Cancer Research states that around 4 out of 10 people with cancer have radiotherapy as part of their cancer treatment.

How Radiotherapy Works

Treatment by Radiotherapy works by damaging the DNA within the cancer cells. This is the genetic code that controls how the body’s cells behave. Radiotherapy either attacks the DNA by creating charged particles called free radicals that damage the DNA or by attacking it directly.

When Cancers Cells DNA is damaged they stop growing and die. Once the cells have died the body naturally breaks them down and discharges them as waste substance. There is one down side to this that normal healthy cells may also be damaged by radiotherapy, however they are usually able to repair themselves.

You’re Course of treatment

When your doctor decides on your course of treatment using radiotherapy he or she may take the following into account

  • The Type of Cancer you have
  • The area your cancer is in
  • Other treatment you have had or is planned for you to receive
  • General health and fitness levels

All radiotherapy treatments are individual to each person’s case. When aiming to cure cancer a usually radiotherapy session can last between 1 – 6 weeks, however for some this can take longer. You will be informed by your doctor about the course length.

Many Cancer Patients have daily radiotherapy treatment from Monday to Friday, with a break over weekends. Others may have different plans such as 3 days treatment per week or treatment twice a day.

According to the types of cancer you have and where it is situated in your body, your doctor will choose the types of radiotherapy machine accordingly.

Effects of Radiotherapy

One of the common Misconceptions to be aware of is that external radiotherapy DOES NOT make you radioactive. You are fine to be around other people including children during the course of your treatment.

General Side Effects and Long Term Side Effects

Due to radiotherapy not only destroying cancer cells in the area of the body it is aimed at, it also damages some normal healthy cells nearby. This can affect people in different ways; it’s very difficult to predict exactly how your body will react to radiotherapy treatment. Many people only have mild side effects but for others the side effects can be more severe.

Mild Side Effects

  • Tiredness
  • Nausea and Feeling Sick
  • Hair Loss

Possible Long-Term Side Effects

  • Infertility – Can occur if the targeted radiotherapy is in this region
  • Swelling in a limb or on the body – Can develop when lymph nodes are possibly damaged by radiotherapy
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Passing allot of urine
  • Difficulty Swallowing