Radiotherapy can be used alone, or as an effective neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment in combination with other treatment modalities such as surgery, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.1-5
The aim of radiotherapy may be cure, control, and palliation, offering benefits in terms of:6, 7
- organ preservation
- quality of life
- survival outcomes
- effective palliation of symptoms.
The treating team considers a range of factors when deciding on a course of radiotherapy. Tumour related factors include:8, 9
- the site of the cancer
- an histologically-proven cell type
- the grade and stage of the tumour
- the radiosensitivity of the tumour.
Individual factors that may influence the decision to use radiotherapy may include comorbidities, performance status, and lack of suitability for surgical resection or anaesthesia.
A significant proportion (approximately 50%) of the population undergoing radiotherapy are treated palliatively to manage local recurrence and palliation of unresectable tumours.10
Palliative indications may include:10-12
- treating pain from bony metastases and pathological fractures
- providing relief from symptoms caused by cerebral metastases
- relieving spinal cord compression
- superior vena cava obstruction
- control of bleeding
- reducing fungating lesions.
Access evidenced based clinical practice guidelines and describe examples of radiotherapy approaches which are used throughout the treatment trajectory for a person affected by breast or prostate cancer.