Health

Radiotherapy seen as 'second best': Your comments

William Roentgen. Pic: Photo researchers/SPL
Image caption German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered X-rays in the 1890s

In this week's Scrubbing Up, cancer specialists Dr Ricky Sharma and Professor Gillies McKenna warn that the UK risks falling behind the rest of the world in developing effective treatments for cancer.

The pair argue that radiotherapy shouldn't be seen as "second best" to chemotherapy and that future funding for new forms of the treatment must be a priority.

BBC News website readers have been sending in their comments.

I was given radiotherapy at the age of 25 for testicular cancer. Thirty years later I developed colon cancer at the spot where radiation treatment was applied. Would I have got it anyway? Perhaps. Still I wonder if it would have made a difference had I not opted for the therapy. In retrospect the treatment was given because it was "the thing to do" and today in the same situation the possibility is great that I would be encouraged to forgo the treatment as the progress of the tumour wasn't very advanced. Given the choice I wish I had been better informed and had opted out. B Scott Gould, Voorburg, Netherlands

I had radiotherapy for breast cancer in between different treatment cycles of chemotherapy. Believe me, I found the radiotherapy a breeze compared to the second four cycles of the drugs. I had 25 radiation doses and the worst part was the 50-mile round trip for treatment every day. It was a part of my treatment where I felt pretty normal and was able to function properly. My skin did break and weep after the last dose, but this was treated with penicillin and cleared up quickly. It is not like the bad old days where people were given huge debilitating doses as everything is so precisely worked out to get to the exact place it's needed. Linda, Fife, Scotland

I would just like to say that I had four weeks of radiotherapy at a hospital in Sheffield back in March 2009 for the treatment of breast cancer and I found the journey to the hospital by train tired me out more than the actual treatment itself. Lesley-Ann Pettit, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, UK

From my experience with family members, first-class radiotherapy with good equipment and skilled operators is far superior as a first line treatment when the cancer is caught early as it is confined to the target area. Chemotherapy introduces chemical "poisons" to the whole body and should only be contemplated when the the cancer has spread or can be treated only by radiotherapy and surgery. The side-effects and long-term effects of chemotherapy are a significant problem that can cast a shadow over a person for the rest of their lives. J Newell, Toronto, Canada

My experience was of daily visits - 20 in all. As soon as I was in position the staff would run for cover and peer through the window while I was being done. From time to time I still get a prickly feeling where I had it, four years later. Louise, Edinburgh, UK

Diagnosed with stage one non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the standard practice with targeted radiation therapy for two months. I felt very weak after each session. In addition to removal of the cancerous node, nothing else was done. Three years later, the cancer returned at stage three level. Chemo (Rituxan) cured me. I'm convinced the radiation therapy encouraged, not discouraged, cancer growth in my body. David Wendel, Georgia, US

The government should pump more money into cancer research and technology for new and better treatments. Getting rid of cancer should be one of the government's top priorities. They should stop wasting money on things that aren't important, this disease brings pain to too many people and their families. It's about time it was wiped out for good. G Rodgers, Nottingham, UK

I had radiotherapy for a tumour over the right eye three years ago at a hospital in Middlesbrough. I had 15 sessions and it proved very successful with no side-effects both short and long-term. I certainly do not see it as second-class and the staff were tremendously supportive. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who needs it. George Douglas Scott, Warri , Nigeria

I have an excellent Oncologist who routinely prescribes post-chemotherapy, prophylactic radiotherapy for his patients. The radio-therapists were excellent, I had some slight side effects, lost my hair but am now fine again. Terence Bradley, South Shields, UK

My mother had radiotherapy for her cancer and was only given a 50/50 chance of treatment working for her. The radiotherapy wiped the tumour out. In the words of her consultant: "Please stop by the radiotherapy department and tell them from me you are cured." Louise Hilborne, Portsmouth, UK