What is palliative radiation therapy?
Palliative radiation therapy isn’t designed to ‘cure’ a cancer. It can be used to help shrink an advanced cancer, or to control symptoms and provide a better quality of life.
There are two types of radiation therapy for palliative treatment: external beam radiation therapy, and internal radiation therapy.
External beam radiation therapy
External beam radiation therapy can treat benign conditions known as ‘inflammatory musculoskeletal indications’, such as Plantar Fasciitis and Dupuytren’s contracture.
What is external beam radiation therapy?
External beam radiation therapy is a type of radiation that delivers high-energy X-ray beams to your treatment site. It’s delivered by a machine called a ‘linear accelerator’.
Does external beam radiation therapy hurt?
Not at all. External beam radiation therapy is painless. In fact, you don’t see or feel the actual treatment. Most people continue with their usual daily routine during the treatment course.
Who decides if I need this treatment?
Your radiation oncologist will recommend the treatment that’s best suited to treat your condition.
How does it work?
Depending upon the treatment location, different energies of radiation are used for external beam therapy.
- Low-energy radiation – doesn’t penetrate very deeply into the body, and is used mainly to treat surface sites, particularly on or just under the skin.
- High-energy radiation – used to treat deeper sites in the body.
What is palliative radiation therapy used for?
Palliative radiation therapy is used to:
- Relieve bone pain
- Treat pressure on the spinal cord (spinal cord compression)
- Shrink a tumour to relieve pressure or a blockage
- Treat symptoms of cancer in the brain
- Treat symptoms of cancer in the lungs
- Control ulcerating tumours and reduce bleeding
- Treat a blood vessel blockage in the neck called superior vena cava obstruction (SVCO)
Is palliative radiation therapy suitable?
Palliative radiation therapy isn’t suitable for all types of cancer - it depends on the particular type you have.
Not all cancers respond well to radiation therapy, so other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or biological therapy may be more appropriate.
Your radiation oncologist will recommend the most suitable treatment for you based on your individual condition.