Palliative Radiotherapy

What is palliative radiation therapy?

While the primary role of radiation is to destroy cancer cells and attempt to cure cancer, for those with late-stage advanced cancer, radiation therapy can be used to treat the symptoms of cancers in order to enhance the quality of life of those with cancer. Radiotherapy uses high energy radiation beams to destroy and prevent the rapid growth of cancer cells. By slowing the growth and shrinking the tumour, radiation can help decrease the uncomfortable and painful local effects of cancer and ensure you continue to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. This is the aim of palliative radiation therapy.

How does palliative radiotherapy work?

Palliative radiotherapy is suitable for all types of cancer and may help alleviate the following symptoms of cancer:

  • Relief of bone pain that cannot be controlled with medication only.
  • Treating symptoms such as nausea, headaches and dizziness, typically from cancer spread to the brain.
  • Reducing pressure of spinal cord and nerve compression.
  • Shrinking of the tumour which may decrease the pressure or blockage.
  • Stopping of bleeding.

Dr Ford provides patients with palliative cancer care no matter what stage of cancer and is compassionate about relieving the symptoms and suffering that come with the cancer diagnosis. The course of palliative radiation treatment will depend on your specific cancer and treatment will integrate the psychological, physical, and spiritual aspects of care to ensure you are able to live a life full of meaning without the negative symptoms of cancer.

What does palliative radiotherapy involve?

Dr Ford will plan your radiotherapy according to the type, location and size of your cancer while considering your quality of life and what course and dosage would be best suited for you. Your oncologist will also evaluate what type of radiation therapy would be best, external or internal radiation therapy (otherwise known as brachytherapy). Typically for this purpose, the shortest most effective dose and course will be used so as to minimise time spent attending treatment or away from loved ones, and to ensure comfort.