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Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat kidney cancer. Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the type and amount of radiation, and when and how it is given. You may also receive other treatments.
Radiation therapy is given for different reasons. You may have radiation therapy to relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced kidney cancer (called palliative therapy).
During external beam radiation therapy, a machine directs radiation through the skin to the tumour and some of the tissue around it.
It is used to control pain and bleeding from a kidney tumour or symptoms of kidney cancer that has spread, or metastasized, to the lungs, brain or bone.
Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for kidney cancer, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Others have few or none at all.
During radiation therapy, the healthcare team protects healthy cells in the treatment area as much as possible. Damage to these healthy cells may cause side effects. Side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after radiation therapy. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years after radiation therapy. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some side effects may last a long time or become permanent.
Side effects of radiation therapy will depend mainly on the size of the area being treated, the specific area or organs being treated, the total dose of radiation and the treatment schedule. Some common side effects of radiation therapy for kidney cancer are:
Tell your healthcare team if you have these side effects or others you think might be from radiation therapy. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.
For more than 50 years, the Canadian Cancer Society’s transportation program has enabled patients to focus their energy on fighting cancer and not on worrying about how they will get to treatment.