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Radiotherapy for bowel cancer symptoms

Men and women discussing bowel cancer

This page is about radiotherapy for bowel cancer symptoms. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Radiotherapy for bowel cancer symptoms

Radiotherapy uses high energy rays to treat cancer. If your bowel cancer has already spread, the radiotherapy treatment won't cure it. The aim of the treatment is to shrink the cancer, or slow down its growth. This relieves symptoms such as pain in the pelvis or rectum. Radiotherapy to relieve symptoms is called palliative radiotherapy.

You have your treatment in the hospital radiotherapy department. You may have just one treatment or a few treatments. Each actual treatment only takes a few minutes. The radiographer positions you on the treatment table and makes sure you are comfortable. You will be left alone while you have your treatment but the radiographers can hear you through an intercom.

Radiotherapy doesn't hurt. You won't be able to feel it but you need to lie very still for the few minutes that you have your treatment. External radiotherapy doesn't make you radioactive. It is perfectly safe to be with other people, including children, throughout your course of treatment.

The side effects are usually mild with radiotherapy for symptom control.
 

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What radiotherapy is

Radiotherapy uses high energy rays to treat cancer. Doctors sometimes use it for advanced cancer of the large bowel (colon) or back passage (rectum).

 

What radiotherapy can do

If your cancer has already spread, the radiotherapy treatment won't cure it. The aim of the treatment is to shrink the cancer or slow down its growth. This relieves symptoms such as pain in the pelvis or rectum. Radiotherapy to relieve symptoms is called palliative radiotherapy.

 

Having radiotherapy for symptoms

You have radiotherapy in the hospital radiotherapy department. You may have just one treatment or a few treatments. Each actual treatment only takes a few minutes. The radiographer positions you on the treatment table and makes sure you are comfortable. You will be left alone while you have your treatment but the radiographers can hear you through an intercom. You can talk to them or ask them questions.

Radiotherapy doesn't hurt. You won't be able to feel it but you need to lie very still for the few minutes that you have your treatment. You can find detailed information about having radiotherapy on the page about having external radiotherapy in our radiotherapy section. 

External radiotherapy doesn't make you radioactive. It is perfectly safe to be with other people, including children, throughout your course of treatment.

The side effects are usually mild with radiotherapy for symptom control.

 

Where to find more information about radiotherapy

Our radiotherapy section tells you more about this type of treatment including

  • What it involves
  • How radiotherapy is planned
  • Possible side effects
  • Coping with radiotherapy

If you would like more information about radiotherapy, contact our cancer information nurses or one of the bowel cancer organisations. They will be happy to help. There is also information about other treatments on our page about treatment types for advanced bowel cancer.

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Updated: 21 August 2013