Written by Dr. Sangamithra, MBBS | 

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ramya Ananthakrishnan, MD on Jul 28, 2021


Radiotherapy, otherwise called as radiation therapy, X-ray radiation or irradiation is the medical use of ionizing radiation to control/destroy malignant cells and shrink tumors. Radiation damages the genetic material present in the rapidly dividing cells and thereby making it impossible for the cell to continue the process of cell division. Hence it is harmful for the cancer cells and also the rapidly dividing healthy cells like skin and hair.

But the normal cells recover from the damages of radiation and function properly. Radiotherapy is mainly used to treat cancer patients. Some of the commonly used radioactive substances are Caesium-137, Cobalt-60, Iodine-131 and Phosphorous-32. Radiotherapy is used to:

Cure many different types of primary cancer. (Curative therapy)

Control the cancer from spreading to different parts of the body.

Relieve symptoms such as pain as it makes life more comfortable in case of advanced stages of cancer. (Palliative therapy)

Assist the main treatment by reducing the size of the cancer and making the treatment more effective or to prevent the recurrence of cancer. (Adjuvant therapy)


  1. About Cancer - (http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/ default.asp?page=166)
  2. WHAT IS RADIOTHERAPY? - (http://www.cancernet.co.uk/rxt-what.htm)


nizamzualiz Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There is opinion saying Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy treatment are not actually killing the cancer cells but the cells are kept [or maybe deactivated] for a period of time... It will strike back. At that point of time, we may be able to do the same treatment/s, but the attack usually more severe than the first. Possibly, the patient may have no energy to go through the second episode of treatment (due to age and/or tiredness and/or cost incurred). If you are not lucky, the second cancer will strike due to the treatment itself. So, instead of killing the cancer cells the treatment may create second cancer. Appreciate comments please

faranak Saturday, February 11, 2012

could IMRT done near an organ cause the organ a condition that can not be transplanted if needed?

linac Saturday, July 17, 2010

can i ask what's the difference between conventional fractionated XRT versus stereotactic radiosurgery vs external beam radiation therapy?

ahpeng Friday, April 16, 2010

My skin is itchy and scratches now and then please advise

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