April is Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Gastric and oesophageal cancers treatments

Radiation therapy / Radiotherapy

Radiation therapy / Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses high-energy X-rays or particles to destroy cancer cells.

It may be utilised as the main treatments, either by itself or alongside chemotherapy (in combination, they are known as chemoradiation).

It may also be used before surgery to try to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove (called neoadjuvant treatment) or after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind (known as adjuvant treatment).

Finally, radiotherapy may also be used to ease the symptoms of advanced oesophageal cancer. This is called palliative therapy.

Radiotherapy can be given in different ways:

  • External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT). A machine beams high-energy waves at the affected area. Each treatment lasts a few minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure.
  • Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy). The doctor passes an endoscope (a long, flexible tube) down the throat to place radioactive material very close to the cancer. Because the radiation is so localised, there are generally fewer side effects than with EBRT.

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