But it's such a dangerous therapy - and one that seems to create more than its fair share of errors - that the World Health Organization (WHO) has stepped in.
Its World Alliance for Patient Safety wants to set up a series of safer treatment protocols that learn from the mistakes of the past. The most common is a radiation overdose, such as the one discovered by radiologists at the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary. Around one thousand cancer patients had received overdoses for 10 years before technicians realised how to work the computers properly.
In the non-litigious UK, there have been around 150 negligence claims for radiation damage in the past 30 years.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2007; 334: 272).
E-news broadcast 15 February 2007 No.334 [Subscribe]