28 January 2011
A significant number of cancer patients are missing out on potentially life-saving radiotherapy treatment because of stigma attached to the procedure.
According to a recent study by YouGov, fewer than one in ten members of the public consider radiotherapy to be a modern treatment for cancer and four in ten described the procedure as frightening.
But a group of cancer specialists has called for the stigma surrounding radiotherapy to be tackled because for many patients it is the best course of treatment.
Dr Barnett said even GPs were poorly informed about the subject.
She noted: "Radiotherapy plays a very small part in a doctor's training, unless you're going to be a clinical oncologist, compared with drugs and surgery which play a part in many fields."
She added that the public was told radiotherapy was a thing of the past 20 years ago, but the advent of computer imaging has reinstated the treatment as a modern medicine.
Recent Swedish research has shown that women who underwent radiotherapy for breast cancer in the 1980s had their risk of cardiovascular disease increased.
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