Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses x rays to kill cancer cells. It is usually given from outside the chest, but may be given directly within the lung (brachytherapy).

Radical radiotherapy is used to try to cure your lung cancer.  It may be given daily from Monday to Friday for 4-7 weeks, or can be given 3 times a day for 12 days.  This is called continuous hyper-fractionated accelerated radiotherapy (CHART).

Radiotherapy can be given in combination with chemotherapy to remove any remaining cancer cells.  It is also used to relieve symptoms such as cough, pain and breathlessness when your cancer is not curable.

To plan radiotherapy, you will have a further CT scan.  The CT scan assesses the area the treatment needs to target whilst leaving as much healthy tissue as possible. Small, pin-prick marks will be tattooed to your skin ensuring the same area is targeted each time.  Receiving radiotherapy is painless, but it is important to remain still whilst the treatment is being given.

If you have been diagnosed with small cell cancer, radiotherapy is often given to your brain to kill any cancer cells that may have 'escaped' from the main tumour.  This is to prevent any of these cells from growing and causing problems in the future, and called 'prophylactic cranial irradiation'.

The commonest side effect of radiotherapy is tiredness.  There may also be difficulty breathing, chest pain, flu like symptoms, small amounts of blood in your phlegm and skin changes.  These will usually settle with time.

For more information on having Radiotherapy click here.