What is radiation treatment?

Radiation treatment is the use of radiation beams to destroy cancer cells or stop them growing. Radiation treatment only affects the part of the body at which the beams are aimed. About half of all people with cancer need radiation treatment at some point. For some types of cancer this is the main treatment. It might also be used in combination with surgery, chemotherapy or hormone therapy.


He aha te maimoatanga iraruke?

Ko te whakamahi i ngā hihi iraruke ki te patu i ngā pūtau matepukupuku te mahi a te maimoatanga iraruke, ki te whakamutu rānei i tō rātou tipu. Ka whai pānga anake te maimoatanga iraruke ki te wāhi ō te tinana ka tuhia ngā hihi. Awhiawhi ki te hāwhe ō ngā tangata mate i te matepukupuku ka whai i te maimoatanga. Mō ētahi ō ngā matepukupuku koina tonu te maimoa matua. Whakamahia ai i ētahi wā ki te taha ō te hāparapara, te hahau, te haumanu taiaki.

 Why is radiation  treatment used

To cure cancers, often in addition to other treatment.

  • To shrink a tumour so that surgery is more effective – neoadjuvant radiation treatment.
  • To treat any cancer cells remaining after surgery – adjuvant radiation treatment.
  • To slow the growth of cancer or relieve symptoms such as bone pain - palliative treatment.


He aha te take whakamahia ai te maimoatanga iraruke?

  • Hei whakaora matepukupuku, he nui tonu ngā wā ka tāpiria ki ētahi atu maimoatanga.
  • Hei tīngongo i tētahi pukupuku kia whai kiko pai ake ai te mahi hāparapara – neoadjuvant maimoatanga iraruke.
  • Hei patu i ngā pūtau matepukupuku e mau tonu ana whai muri i te hāparapara – adjuvant maimoatanga iraruke.
  • Hei whakatōmuri i te tipu o te matepukupuku, hei whakahirihiri tohumate rānei, pērā ki te mamae ō te kōiwi – maimoatanga taurima.


How does radiation treatment work?

Radiation treatment destroys cancer cells that are dividing. It also affects dividing cells of normal tissue. The damage to normal cells is what causes side effects. For each person receiving radiation treatment, a decision is made about how much treatment to give without causing too much damage to normal tissue. Normal cells can repair themselves after this damage, but cancer cells cannot.


What are the ways of giving radiation treatment?

There are two ways of giving radiation treatment: 

  • External beam radiation treatment – this is given from outside the body.
  • Internal radiation treatment – this is given using a radioactive source placed inside the body.

The way you have radiation treatment depends on the type of cancer you have and where the cancer is in your body. Some cancers are treated with both external and internal radiation.


Where will I have radiation treatment?

Radiation treatment is available in specialist treatment centres in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.


Is there help available with transport and accommodation?

Help may be available for transport and accommodation costs if you are required to travel some distance to your medical and treatment 11 appointments. Your treatment centre or local Cancer Society can advise you on what sort of help is available, such as Cancer Society accommodation or National Travel Assistance. 

Cancer Society accommodation

The Cancer Society provides accommodation for people having cancer treatment away from home. If you are interested in using this service, contact your local Cancer Society or the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237) for more information. If you meet specific criteria there may be no cost to you for this accommodation.

“It’s like a home away from home. We do all our own cooking and washing. You still have to look after those things yourself. It’s not like hospital. It’s really good to meet people, talk about it, but you’ve got your own room and your own time.” Melinda

National Travel Assistance

If eligible, you can get financial help towards your travel and accommodation costs. To find out if this applies to you, speak with a social worker or your hospital travel office. For more information, see the Ministry of Health website (www.health.govt.nz/new-zealandhealth-system/claims-provider-payments-and-entitlements/nationaltravel-assistance) or phone 0800 281 222.