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Learn about radiotherapy


Radiotherapy treats cancer by using high-energy rays to destroy the cancer cells in one area of the body, while doing as little harm as possible to healthy cells. The treatment is usually given as a series of short daily sessions over a few weeks.

Radiotherapy is also used in children who require a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. Radiotherapy is used to destroy their existing bone marrow prior to transplantation.

Proton beam therapy is an advanced form of radiotherapy that uses a precision high-energy beam of particles to destroy cancer cells. Because it is so much more precise than conventional radiotherapy, it can deliver a high-dose of radiation to the tumour whilst sparing surrounding healthy tissue, so reducing the risk of harmful side effects.

There are currently no proton beam therapy facilities available in the UK and a number of patients are sent abroad for treatment. The first facilities opened in the UK in 2015.

To learn about radiotherapy’s side effects, and those of other cancer types, please visit our side effects page.

Learn about cancer treatment side effects