Radiotherapy to relieve symptoms

Radiotherapy to control and relieve symptoms and improve quality of life is called palliative radiotherapy. It can be used to relieve bone pain, help with spinal cord compressions and relieve other symptoms caused by cancer. 

What is radiotherapy to relieve symptoms?

Radiotherapy for symptoms or palliative treatment aims to shrink a cancer, slow down its growth and control symptoms.

Radiotherapy for pain in the bone

Radiotherapy can help relieve pain from secondary cancer in the bone. Secondary cancers are cancers that have spread from another part of the body. 

Radiotherapy for spinal cord compression

Spinal cord compression means that cancer is pressing on or near the spinal cord. You might have radiotherapy to help relieve symptoms. 

Radiotherapy to relieve pressure or a blockage

Radiotherapy can be the quickest way of shrinking a cancer and relieving symptoms when tumours block passages in the body.

Radiotherapy for brain cancer symptoms

Radiotherapy can help relieve symptoms caused by cancer that has spread to the brain. These symptoms can include headaches and sickness.  

Radiotherapy for lung cancer symptoms

Cancer that has spread to the lungs can cause symptoms, such as breathlessness. Radiotherapy can help to relieve these symptoms. 

Radiotherapy for fungating tumours

Fungating tumours happen when cancers growing under the skin break through the skin surface. They are also known as ulcerating cancers, malignant wounds or cancer wounds. Radiotherapy can shrink the cancer and help dry up the wound.

Radiotherapy for blood vessel blockage (SVCO)

Cancer can grow and block the vein that carries blood back to the heart (superior vena cava). Blockage of this vein is called superior vena cava obstruction (SVCO). 

Last reviewed: 
24 Nov 2023
Next review due: 
24 Nov 2026