Malignant tumors can be treated with the intent to cure (curative) or as a form of palliative treatment with the aim of symptomatic pain relief and an improvement in quality of life.
1. Curative therapy
Tumors that are contained to the originating organ and/or have possibly spread to adjacent lymph nodes can be treated curatively.
Curative radiotherapy treatment aims to completely cure a patient of their cancer.
These non-metastatic tumors will be, if possible, surgically removed.
In most cases, a post-op treatment by means of irradiation is regarded as medically sensible in order to reduce the risk of relapse and significantly improve chances of recovery (i.e. breast cancer).
In other cases, a surgical removal of the tumor is not possible because of its proximity to vital organs (i.e. tumors in the area of the lung, head or neck). Then, an immediate radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy or immunotherapy is highly advisable. With prostate cancer, chances of recovery for a therapy exclusively focusing on irradiation are equal to a surgical therapy. The treatment options for a specific tumor are determined by physicians who are experts in different medical specialities at interdisciplinary conferences (so-called tumor board reviews) according to the guidelines of the German Cancer Society and the corresponding regional cancer societies.
2. Palliative therapy / symptom relief
Tumors that are not contained to the originating organ and have developed metastases are more likely regarded as non-curable.
Therefore, therapy aims at relieving symptomatic conditions such as pain or shortness of breath and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Irradiation of painful bone metastases can provide pain relief and prevent bone fractures.
When a tumor inflicts pressure to the bronchial tubes or to the superior caval vein, the patient suffers from shortness of breath. Precise irradation can shrink these metastases and relieve the breathlessness.
Brain metastases can lead to paralyses, seizures and unconciousness. Irradiation can delay the growth of these metastases or, as a best case scenario, eradicate them.
This improves both quality and span of life – ultimately resulting in a longer life expectancy for the patient.
Main therapeutic fields of curative and palliative radiotherapy for malignant tumors::
• Breast cancer
• Prostate cancer
• Bowel cancer
• Lung cancer
• Gynaecological tumors
• Oesophageal cancer
• Gastric cancer
• Soft tissue tumors
• Throat/nose, oral/maxillofacial carcinoma