Some doctors still think of radiotherapy as the last resort for patients with cancer, but this attitude is wrong. At some sites surgical, radiotherapeutic and medical treatments are used separately or together in an attempt to achieve a cure. Cure can be defined as the achievement of normal life expectancy,1 but this criterion is difficult to apply and therefore prognosis is often based on survival rates 3, 5 or 10 years from the start of treatment. Comparison of survival rates from different series is unsatisfactory. Because of muddled thinking about the ethical problems involved, very few trials have compared the various methods of treatment. Treatment is most successfully planned in a combined clinic attended by the radiotherapist and other relevant specialists, for example, physician, surgeon and haematologist.
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