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"Is external beam radiotherapy dangerous?"


I will have external beam radiotherapy done on a part of my body. Is this very dangerous? I am 29 and strong. Can I take this?


Radiation therapy is a growing field of medicine that is becoming more and more a part of what we do as doctors. While a thorough review is beyond the scope of this article, it is possible to give some general pointers. If your doctor has advised EBRT (external beam radiotherapy), it is likely because the risks of surgery seem to be greater.

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Usually, EBRT is used to treat things that would be difficult to reach with surgery, or things that would be compromised if surgery were the method used to treat. It has the advantage, in general, of preserving the current anatomy, instead of having to surgically alter it. That being said, all therapy has some relative disadvantages. While EBRT is becoming more precise every day, there is no way to only affect the involved tissue, meaning that there will be some radiation to surrounding tissue, and this damage will often be a permanent feature that may alter future therapeutic options. Many people will also have some nausea, vomiting, weakness, and other symptoms, that can additionally vary based on the body part that is being irradiated. Discussing these with the oncologist who is performing the EBRT will help you to best understand what lies before you. Being strong before the treatment will improve your odds of tolerating it very well.

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