Radiotherapy may sometimes be given with chemotherapy. Doctors call this chemoradiation.

What is chemoradiation?

Having chemotherapy at the same time as radiotherapy is called chemoradiation.

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells.

The chemotherapy drugs can make cancer cells more sensitive to radiotherapy. Combining both treatments is often more effective than having either treatment on its own.

When is chemoradiation used?

This treatment is only helpful for certain types of cancer, so it is not suitable for everyone. Depending on the type of cancer, you may have chemoradiation:

  • as your main treatment for cancer
  • after surgery, to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.

We may have more about chemoradiation in our information about different types of cancer.

Side effects of chemoradiation

We have more information about the side effects of radiotherapy and the side effects of chemotherapy.

Giving chemotherapy and radiotherapy together can make the side effects of treatment worse. Your doctor or specialist nurse will give you more information about chemoradiation and the possible side effects.

Always tell your doctor, specialist nurse or radiographer about any side effects so they can help.