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Your radiotherapy treatment plan

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about how you have radiotherapy. There is information about


Working out your treatment plan

Depending on your type of cancer you may have radiotherapy as the only treatment. Or you may have radiotherapy before, during or after surgery, chemotherapy or biological therapy. Sometimes radiotherapy is given alongside chemotherapy and is called chemoradiation. 

The radiotherapy treatment team

Radiotherapy specialists (clinical oncologists) look at the size and type of your cancer to plan your treatment. They also take your general health into account. They work together with a team of people, including medical physicists, radiologists, radiographers and dosimetrists. The treatment team plan the treatment to suit your needs. 

Radiotherapy planning

Your doctor will measure the position of the cancer and your body shape in that area to work out the total dose of radiotherapy you need.

Usually, for external radiotherapy the medical team work out the total dose and then divide it into lots of smaller doses called fractions. It is most common to have 1 treatment fraction each weekday with no treatment at weekends. The treatment course may last a few weeks or up to 6 or 7 weeks. 

But some people may have treatment less often, for example, 3 times a week for 3 weeks. Some people may have treatment more often, for example, twice a day, including at weekends. Your doctor will discuss with you how many treatments you need and how often you will have them. Some people have just 1 or 2 treatments or a few treatments.


Aim of radiotherapy treatment

The radiotherapy team plan each person's radiotherapy individually. The treatment aims to give a high dose to the cancer, but as low a dose as possible to the surrounding healthy cells. The healthy cells can then recover. This aims to give the highest chance of curing or shrinking the cancer while reducing the risk of side effects.

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Updated: 15 April 2014