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Radiation Therapy

How Long Does The Treatment Take?

Last modified: 
24/04/2012 - 12:35

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

For most cancers, external radiation therapy is given four or five days a week for five to seven weeks. Taking two or three days off a week helps normal cells to recover. The course of treatment is shorter for palliative care and usually lasts two to three weeks.

Research has shown that giving many smaller doses of radiation is better than a few large doses. The treatment is as effective and damage to healthy tissues is reduced. Radiation is usually given once daily, but sometimes the daily dose is divided into two or more sessions. This is called fractionated radiation therapy.

Sometimes, treatment is split into two groups of sessions, with a week or two off in the middle.

Need To Know:

To get the greatest benefit from therapy, you must go for all of your scheduled treatments. Skipping or delaying treatments will reduce the effectiveness of radiation treatment.

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.