Radiotherapy for uterine (womb) cancer

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External beam radiotherapy 

External beam radiotherapy is a treatment that uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.  The beams of radiation are aimed at the cancer from a machine called a linear accelerator. 

Radiotherapy for uterine cancer may be given:

  • Before surgery to shrink the cancer, making it easier to remove
  • After surgery to destroy small amounts of cancer that may be left
  • With chemotherapy to make the treatment work better (chemoradiation)
  • To relieve symptoms if the cancer is advanced or has come back (palliative radiotherapy)

Side-effects of uterine (womb) radiotherapy

Short-term possible side-effects

Longer term possible side-effects

Read more about external radiotherapy and its side-effects.

Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy)

Internal radiotherapy means radiotherapy treatment delivered from the inside of your body. 

It gives a high dose of radiation to a small area to kill cancer cells in an area at the top of the vagina called the vaginal vault. A small radioactive source goes into your vagina through a hollow tube (applicator). 

Before bracyhtherapy treatment

The applicator is inserted into the vagina so it will sit against the vaginal vault. This procedure will not be painful but may be a little uncomfortable. You will not need an anaesthetic for this procedure.

The treatment will take about an hour. Most of the time is spent on planning the treatment to make sure the right area is being targeted. The treatment itself only takes a couple of minutes to deliver. Once the treatment is completed, the applicator is removed and you can go home.

You may need to come back again for further treatments. Your consultant will decide how many you will need. It is usually between 2 and 4.

Side-effects of internal radiotherapy

Short-term possible side-effects

These side-effects usually last for 2 to 4 weeks after treatment.

Longer-term possible side-effects

These can happen months or even years after treatment. 

For more information

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1800 200 700

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