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Radiation treatment is often recommended before or after surgical removal of a primary cancer. It is important that you understand what can be gained by doing this.
Firstly, as I mentioned in the previous section, the addition of radiation to surgical removal of a primary cancer very rarely makes any difference to the chance of complete and permanent cure. However, it can make a difference to the chance that cancer will grow back again in the same place — local recurrence.
Radiation before an operation may be recommended if you have a large primary cancer that your surgeons feel they cannot completely remove. Their recommendation is based on the hope that shrinking your cancer by radiation could change it from one that is too large and extensive to be removed to one that can be removed completely. The fact is that a cancer that is too extensive to be removed can rarely be cured by any means, unless it is a type that is extremely sensitive to radiation or chemotherapy. It is also a fact that radiation, followed by a less extensive operation than would have been necessary to start with, is an approach that very rarely produces cures. It sounds like a good idea but unfortunately, it doesn’t work. I would question the radiotherapist and surgeon very closely indeed before agreeing to such a plan.
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