Know Your Chemo from your Radio

One of my lovely readers emailed asking if I could explain the difference between chemo and radiotherapy.  So here we are…


Chemotherapy is traditionally given via intravenous drip administered in hospital but you can now get chemotherapy tablets that can be taken at home.  Once in your blood stream, chemo can be taken the whole way round your body, treating cancerous cells, anywhere.

Cells divide themselves to reproduce, which is usually how we retain a healthy body but when we have cancerous cells dividing and reproducing, cancerous tumours form and spread.  Chemo stops your cells dividing and reproducing.  The only problem is, it stops your healthy cells as well, which is part of the reason people on chemo get so ill.  But the healthy cells will get better, the cancerous cells won’t – take that cancer!!

Personally I had both.  An intravenous session followed by two weeks of taking tablets everyday at home.

If you want more detailed information on chemotherapy, Macmillan have this wonderful leaflet…


Radiotherapy is literally a radiation ray or beam that targets the sight of your cancer.  It is given via a large x-ray type machine.  Radiotherapy is usually given daily over a period, in my case it was every day for six weeks.

Unlike chemo, it usually only affects the area it targets.  You will be given a scan to determine exactly where radiologists will be aiming the machine, then you are given tiny tattoos so that they get the exact place every time.  There will always be some healthy tissue damaged by radiotherapy but the precise nature of scans and tattoos is to ensures its minimal.

Radiotherapy can burn the skin quite badly, in my case it was very uncomfortable as it burnt my undercarriage but the physical effects are generally easier than with chemo.

If you want more information about radiotherapy or internal radiotherapy, have a look here at Macmillan’s website….

If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, please do not hesitate to let me know and if I can I will happily answer them.

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4 thoughts on “Know Your Chemo from your Radio

  1. I had 2 chemo treatments and 30 radiation. My radiologist told me the radiation targeted the tumor only. I found out that simply is not true. The beam was shot below my left pelvic bone and my left butt cheek. The cancer was located on the left side of my anal wall. The front and back of both my upper thighs turned charcoal gray and stayed that way for months.. My skin looked like I was wearing gray shorts. My left pelvic bone got 5 insufficiency fractures caused from radiation damage. I have a permanent “Brazilian” in my pubic area. And a dimple in my left butt check where the beam damaged my muscle.

    It also affected my appetite and made me tired .

    Would I still have done the radiation knowing what damage it would do? Yes. It helped save my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow thanks so much for sharing all of that. You poor thing. My skin damage was much more localised so it’s always fantastic to hear from someone who had a different reaction and get a clearer rounded picture. Did your skin heal ok? Nx


      1. Yes, but it took about a year. All kinds of mysterious rashes kept popping up. The thing to remember is, everything we put in to our bodies, ends up in our bloodstream, which circulates through our entire system (including the brain). Everything is connected. I did everything I could to rebuild my immune system from all the damage caused by the treatments.


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