Radiotherapy uses X-rays and other forms of radiation, such as high-energy electrons, to destroy cancer cells. It is used to treat one area at a time and can be administered externally or within the body.
Radiotherapy for metastatic breast cancer is usually administered in short courses of between one and 10 treatments to minimise side effects.
Radiotherapy can be particularly helpful for easing pain or discomfort in the bones, parts of the brain and the skin. While it may be some weeks before pain in the bone eases after radiotherapy, most people do experience relief, and many report that their pain has eased completely.
Depending on the part of the body being treated, side effects of radiotherapy can include:
Talk to your treating team if you are experiencing any side effects from radiotherapy. They can offer advice and support.
As radiotherapy continues working after the treatment has finished, it may be a couple of weeks before you start to feel the benefits.
See managing symptoms and side effects to help you deal with certain side effects from various forms of treatment, including those from radiotherapy.
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'Ask the Expert' series - with Dr Michelle White
Let’s be upfront about the side effects of hormone-blocking therapies for the treatment of hormone receptor positive breast cancer.
During treatment, many people experience pain or discomfort. Discuss options with your GP, specialist or breast care nurse to manage it early