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Radiotherapy may be given with the aim of curing the cancer, or to provide relief from symptoms of cancer.
Radiotherapy is often given with the aim of destroying a tumour and curing the cancer. Radiotherapy given in this way is described as curative or radical radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy may be used on its own or may be given before or after surgery| or chemotherapy|. Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. If radiotherapy and chemotherapy are given at the same time, this treatment is known as chemoradiation.
For most types of curative radiotherapy treatment, you will need to go to hospital each weekday, Monday-Friday, for 2-7 weeks.
When it’s not possible to cure a cancer, radiotherapy may be given to relieve symptoms such as pain|. This is called palliative treatment. Lower doses of radiotherapy are given for palliative treatment than for curative treatment, and they’re usually given over a shorter period of time. Sometimes just a single treatment may be given.
Content last reviewed: 1 July 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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