What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is a treatment used to kill cancer cells through aiming high-energy radiation at the tumour. Unlike chemotherapy, which impacts the entire body with chemicals, modern radiotherapy is accurate to within millimetres, limiting damage to healthy cells around the cancer. This makes radiotherapy useful for treating cancers in areas vulnerable to damage, allowing effective treatment of cancers that would be practicably untreatable through surgery or chemotherapy.

There have been major breakthroughs in radiotherapy in the last 10 years with modern advanced radiotherapy being more precise, curing more patients and producing fewer side effects to the point where patients can often continue working normally during the course of their treatment. However, this advanced radiotherapy is not currently available across all the UK.

  • Radiotherapy is highly effective, improving survival rates in 16% of cancer patients compared with only 2% with chemotherapy.
  • Only 5% of the NHS cancer budget is spent on radiotherapy (£383 million a year). More investment is access to advanced modern radiotherapy will increase cancer survival.
  • 1 in 2 people in the UK now develop cancer at some point in their lives.
  • UK cancer survival rates lag behind the European average in 9 out of 10 cancers. The UK has the 2nd worst survival rates for lung cancer in Europe.
  • 1 in 4 people will undergo radiotherapy at some point in their lives.
  • By 2025, the percentage of cancer patients needing radiotherapy as part of their treatment will have risen from the current 50% to 60%. 

Member companies in our Radiotherapy SFG are: