Chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy is where chemotherapy is combined with radiotherapy to treat cancer. Both treatments destroy cancer cells. Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays and chemotherapy uses drugs. You may be treated just with chemotherapy or just with radiotherapy. Use of chemotherapy is a lot more common for pancreatic cancer than radiotherapy.
Combining the two treatments can work better than using one by itself. Chemotherapy can make cancer cells more likely to be affected by the radiotherapy.
One or both may be used:
- Before surgery to try to shrink or slow the growth of the cancer.
- After surgery to try to stop the cancer coming back.
- To slow down the growth of the cancer if surgery isnt possible.
- To help to relieve symptoms such as pain.
CyberKnife stereotactic ablative radiotherapy might also be used.
A consultant explains why the use of radiotherapy in pancreatic cancer is controversial.
Elaine had surgery followed by radiotherapy. Her doctor had ‘persuaded’ her to have the treatment to try to stop the cancer coming back.
After her surgery Elaine had radiotherapy. She felt a bit nauseated and tired but had no other…
Other we spoke to who’d had radiotherapy had also had chemotherapy at the same time. One man had it to try to shrink his tumour in order to make surgery possible. Others had it after surgery to try to stop it coming back. A few people were unable to have surgery so had chemoradiation to slow the growth of the cancer.
People had different chemotherapy drugs.
Steve had neo-adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. His doctors wanted to shrink his tumour, hoping to make…
After her surgery Alison had adjuvant chemotherapy. Then she had adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. She…
Anthonys wife, Martine, had inoperable pancreatic cancer. After the diagnosis she started…
People usually have radiotherapy as an outpatient. Treatment is painless, but Michael said he found the massive machine ‘rather intimidating’. Peter found it difficult to lie still on the table because it was uncomfortable as he had become very thin. He also felt disorientated after treatment.
Richard had inoperable cancer. He had chemoradiotherapy. He described what it was like to have…
People experienced various side effects. It was not always clear which were from the chemotherapy and which were from the radiotherapy.