Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses concentrated radiation beams to destroy cancerous cells.
The most common type of radiation therapy is known as the external beam radiation. This kind involves a machine that directs high-energy beams of radiation at cancer cells. This machine helps radiation to be targeted at specific sites, which is why doctors use external beam radiation for virtually all types of malignancy (cancer).
Why Radiation Therapy is done
Radiation therapy is a key tool for treating most cancers and usually, it is used in conjunction with other therapies, such as chemotherapy or tumor removal surgery.
The most important goals of radiation therapy are to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. While the therapy as well will likely injure healthy cells, the damage isn’t permanent. Your normal, noncancerous cells have the ability to recuperate from radiation therapy. To reduce the effect radiation has on the body, the radiation is targeted only to distinctive points in your body.
Radiation therapy can be used all through different tiers of cancer treatment and for different outcomes. Radiation therapy can be used:
to lessen signs and symptoms in advanced, late-stage cancer
as the primary treatment for cancer
in combination with other cancer treatments
to cut back a tumor prior to surgery
to kill any left cancer cells post-surgery
Risks of Radiation Therapy
Irrespective of what type of radiation been used, fatigue and hair loss are general side effects. Loss of usually happens specifically on the part of patient body being treated.
Radiation also affects skin cells. Skin modifications can comprise;
Other side effects of radiation depend on the area being treated, and comprises of:
difficulties while urinating, like painful urination or urinary urgency
The greater part of these effects go away within two months after treatment is complete. In rare cases, effects can remain or even appear six or more months after treatment has completed.
Late effects may include:
lymphedema, or tissue swelling
potential secondary cancer
These can sometimes appear years after therapy. Converse to your doctor about any issues you have regarding side effects.
How to prepare for Radiation Therapy
The first step in radiation treatment is by investigating it’s the right form of treatment for you. Your doctor will as well determine dosage amounts and the frequency of radiation best suited for your malignancy (cancer) type and stage. From time to time your doctor may decide that radiation remedy is best suited for use at a later stage, so you may get different cancer treatments first.
Preparation for radio-therapy involves a radiation simulation. It usually includes the steps seen below.
Patient will lie on the same type of table that will be used for treatment.
Lying comfortably at an ideal angle during therapy is very essential for treatment success, so your therapist may use cushions and restraints to place you at the best position for treatment.
Patient will then undergo CT scans or X-rays to determine the full extent of your cancer and where the radiation has to be focused.
After determining the best site for radiation treatment, your treatment crew will then spot the area with a very small tattoo. This tattoo is usually the size of a freckle. In sure cases, a permanent tattoo is not needed.
You’re now ready to begin radiation therapy.
How Radiation Therapy is performed
Radiation therapy naturally takes treatment sessions five days a week for 1 to 10 weeks. The entire number of treatments depends on the size and kind of malignancy (cancer). Each session usually takes about 10 to 30 minutes. Often, the patient is given each weekend off from therapy, which helps with the restoration of normal cells.
At every session, you’ll lie on the treatment table, and your therapy team will position you and apply the identical types of cushions and restraints used during your first radiation simulation. Defensive covering or shields might also be placed on or around you to protect diverse body parts from unnecessary radiation.
Radiation therapy includes the use of a linear accelerator machine, which sends radiation at the appropriate spot. The machine may move round the table in order to send the radiation at the appropriate angles. The machine may as well make a buzzing sound, which is perfectly normal.
You should expect to feel no pain at some point of this test. You’ll also be able to converse with your team by way of the room’s intercom, if necessary. Your doctors will be nearby in a neighboring room, monitoring the test.
Following up after Radiation Therapy
During the weeks of therapy, your healthcare provider will closely monitor your treatment schedule and dosing, and your general health.
You’ll undertake several imaging scans and tests during radiation so your doctors can look at how well you’re responding to treatment. These scans and tests can also inform them if any modifications need to be made to your therapy.
If patient experiences side effects from radiation — even if they’re expected — tell your healthcare provider at subsequent appointment. Occasionally, even small changes can make a huge difference in lessening side effects. At the very least, you possibly will be given advice or a medication to help ease the pain.
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