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What Is Radiation Therapy?
What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation oncology is a medical specialty that is an important component of cancer treatment that takes a multidisciplinary approach, and Radiation Oncologists use Radiation Therapy to treat patients.
Radiation therapy (also known as radiotherapy) is a type of cancer treatment in which high doses of radiation are used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is used in low doses in x-rays to see inside your body, as in x-rays of your teeth or broken bones.
Types of Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is classified into two types: external beam and internal beam.
The type of radiation therapy you receive is determined by a number of factors, including: the type of cancer, the size, location, and proximity of the tumor to normal tissues sensitive to radiation, overall health, medical history, whether you will receive additional cancer treatment, and other factors, such as your age.
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:Radiation therapy using an external beam
External beam radiation therapy is delivered by a machine that directs radiation toward your cancer. The machine is large and potentially noisy. It does not touch you, but it can move around you, sending radiation to various parts of your body.
External beam radiation therapy is a local treatment, which means it only affects one area of your body. For example, if you have lung cancer, you will only receive radiation to your chest, not your entire body.
:Internal radiation treatment
Internal radiation therapy is a treatment in which a radiation source is implanted within your body. Radiation sources can be either solid or liquid.
Brachytherapy refers to internal radiation therapy using a solid source. This type of treatment involves implanting seeds, ribbons, or capsules containing a radiation source in or near the tumor. Brachytherapy, like external beam radiation therapy, is a local treatment that only targets a specific area of your body.
The radiation source in your body will emit radiation for a short period of time during brachytherapy.
To treat certain types of cancer, radiation drugs are administered orally or intravenously. These drugs are then circulated throughout the body. You may need to take extra precautions at home for a while after receiving these drugs.
Before the Radiation Therapy begins
Choosing to receive treatment
If you are diagnosed with cancer, you will be treated by a multidisciplinary team. If your team believes radiotherapy is the best option for you, they will recommend it, but the final decision is yours.
This is a difficult decision to make. You might want to make a list of questions to ask your care team.
Your treatment will be meticulously planned to ensure that the highest possible dose is delivered to the cancer while causing as little damage to nearby healthy cells as possible.
A CT scan will most likely be performed to determine the exact location and size of the cancer.
Following the scan, some very small but permanent ink marks may be made on your skin to ensure that the correct area is targeted each time.
Radiotherapy is typically administered daily for several weeks.
Before treatment begins, your care team will develop a plan that includes:
the type of radiotherapy you'll receive and the number of treatment sessions you'll require
how frequently you will require treatment
The majority of people have 5 treatments per week (1 treatment a day from Monday to Friday, with a break at the weekend). However, treatment may be administered more than once per day or over the weekend in some cases.
Each dose may be referred to as a "fraction" by your doctor, though the term "attendance" is sometimes used to indicate how many hospital visits you will need to make during treatment.
Who gets Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is used by more than half of cancer patients. Radiation therapy is sometimes the only cancer treatment required, and other times it is combined with other types of treatment. The decision to use radiation therapy is influenced by the type and stage of cancer, as well as any other health issues a patient may be experiencing.
When combined with surgery, radiation can be administered as follows:
To shrink the size of the cancer before surgery so that it can be removed surgically and is less likely to return.
During surgery, it bypasses the skin and goes straight to the cancer. This type of radiation therapy is known as intraoperative radiation. Doctors can more easily protect nearby normal tissues from radiation using this technique.
Following surgery, to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.
How does Radiation Therapy work?
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons to destroy or damage cancer cells.
Small breaks in the DNA inside cells are caused by radiation therapy. These breaks stop cancer cells from growing and dividing, killing them. Radiation can also affect normal cells nearby, but the vast majority recover and resume their normal functions.
It can be used alone or in combination with other therapies to shrink tumors prior to surgery or chemotherapy, as well as to destroy any remaining cancer cells after other treatments.
Radiation therapy primarily benefits people diagnosed with cancer in its early stages and cancers that are likely to spread to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy is also used to detect and eliminate cancer cells that have the potential to harm the body. Radiation therapy is used to treat swallowing and breathing problems caused by tumor location in some cases, such as throat and lung cancers.
Radiation Therapy Procedure
A planning stage occurs after radiation therapy is ordered. A simulation scan on a special CT scanner will be performed on the patient first. It is possible to use IV or oral contrast. If a device (such as a mask) is required to keep the patient still, this is determined during the simulation scan appointment.
The radiation oncologist then describes the treatment area, the tumor, and the areas to avoid (such as normal organs). Dosimetrists, medical physicists, and radiation oncologists create and review the radiation plan. The radiation plan is then subjected to quality and safety inspections.
Cancers treated with Radiation Therapy
Head and Neck Cancer
Metastatic Brain Cancer
Spinal Cord Tumor
Side Effects and Risks of Radiation Therapy
The side effects of radiation therapy vary depending on which part of your body is exposed to radiation and how much radiation is used. You could have no side effects or you could have several. Most side effects are temporary, manageable, and generally disappear after treatment is completed.
: Sore Skin
Radiotherapy can cause the skin to become sore and red (similar to sunburn), darker than normal, or dry and itchy in some people.
Many people undergoing radiotherapy feel tired (fatigued) most of the time or tyre easily while performing daily activities.
This usually begins during treatment and can last for several weeks or months after treatment is completed.
: Hair Loss
Radiation Therapy frequently causes hair loss. However, unlike chemotherapy, it only causes hair loss in the area being treated.
: Sore Mouth
Radiotherapy to the head or neck can cause soreness and irritation of the mouth lining. This is referred to as mucositis.
: Loss of Appetite
Feeling sick and tired during radiotherapy can cause you to lose your appetite, resulting in weight loss.
: Discomfort while swallowing
Radiation therapy to the chest can irritate your food pipe (oesophagus), making swallowing uncomfortable for a short time.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of tummy or pelvic radiotherapy. It usually begins a few days after treatment begins and may worsen as treatment progresses.
: Stiff joints and muscles
: Sex and fertility issues
: Emotional issues
Radiation therapy can be an exasperating, stressful, and traumatic experience. It's natural to be concerned about the outcome of your treatment.
Radiation therapy can harm your lymphatic system, which is a network of channels and glands that function as part of your immune system (the body's defense against illness).
Sanjeevani CBCC USA Cancer Hospital is the best cancer hospital in Raipur, and they were the first in Chhattisgarh to introduce a world-class radiotherapy facility (Linear Accelerator) with the help of CBCC.
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