7 doctors weighed in:

Can you tell me exactly when is radiation therapy used to treat cancer and when is chemotherapy used?

7 doctors weighed in
Dr. Barry Rosen
Surgery
4 doctors agree

In brief: Local v. Systemic Rx

Cancer rx involves treating the organ where the cancer developed (local rx) as well as any cancer cells that may have broken away from the organ of origin and travelled elsewhere in the body (systemic rx).
In general, surgery and radiation therapy are local rx whereas chemotherapy is designed to circulate throughout the body and kill cancer cells. Ideally, these 3 modalities work together for cure.

In brief: Local v. Systemic Rx

Cancer rx involves treating the organ where the cancer developed (local rx) as well as any cancer cells that may have broken away from the organ of origin and travelled elsewhere in the body (systemic rx).
In general, surgery and radiation therapy are local rx whereas chemotherapy is designed to circulate throughout the body and kill cancer cells. Ideally, these 3 modalities work together for cure.
Dr. Barry Rosen
Dr. Barry Rosen
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Dr. Chakshu Gupta
Pathology

In brief: Guideline based

Some tumors respond better to one or the other, or they may need to be given together or sequentially.
The choice is mostly based on standard guidelines (nccn) that are evidence based with some degree of physician or institutional variation.

In brief: Guideline based

Some tumors respond better to one or the other, or they may need to be given together or sequentially.
The choice is mostly based on standard guidelines (nccn) that are evidence based with some degree of physician or institutional variation.
Dr. Chakshu Gupta
Dr. Chakshu Gupta
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Dr. Hung Khong
Internal Medicine - Oncology

In brief: It depends

In early stage cancer (more likely to be cured), radiation therapy is often used with chemotherapy and rarely by itself.
Chemo can be used by itself for curative purpose. In advanced cancer (unlikely to be cured), radiation can be used with or without chemotherapy mainly to palliate or alleviate symptoms such as bone pain. Chemo by itself can be used to alleviate symptoms and/or prolong survival.

In brief: It depends

In early stage cancer (more likely to be cured), radiation therapy is often used with chemotherapy and rarely by itself.
Chemo can be used by itself for curative purpose. In advanced cancer (unlikely to be cured), radiation can be used with or without chemotherapy mainly to palliate or alleviate symptoms such as bone pain. Chemo by itself can be used to alleviate symptoms and/or prolong survival.
Dr. Hung Khong
Dr. Hung Khong
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