The use of naturally occurring isotopes, or artiﬁcially produced X-rays, in the killing of tumour cells. The amount of radiation is the adsorbed dose; the SI unit is the gray (Gy).
Diﬀerent tumours seem to be particularly sensitive to radiation; radiotherapy plays an important role in the management of germ-cell tumours (SEMINOMA; TERATOMA) and lymphomas (see LYMPHOMA). Many head and neck tumours, gynaecological cancers, and localised prostate and bladder cancers are curable with radiotherapy. It may be used to reduce the pain
– for example, from bone metastases.
Unwanted effects Generalised: lethargy, loss of appetite. Skin: ERYTHEMA, dry desquamation with itching, moist desquamation. Patients should keep the treated area(s) dry and clean and avoid soap, antiseptic mouthwashes, smoking and spicy food if possible. (See ISOTOPE; RADIATION SICKNESS; RADIOTHERAPY).