Radiation cancer treatment

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. At low doses, specialists use radiation in X-rays to see through the body, as with X-rays of teeth or broken bones.

How radiation therapy works against cancer

At high doses, radiation therapy kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is irreparably damaged cease to divide, leading to their death. When these cells die, our bodies will disassemble and remove them.

Radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells immediately. It takes days or weeks of treatment before DNA is sufficiently damaged until cancer cells die. Cancer cells then continue to die for weeks or months after radiation therapy is over.

Types of radiation therapy

There are two main types of radiation therapy, external and internal radiation.

The type of radiation therapy that the specialist may use for treatment depends on several factors, including:

  • Type of cancer
  • Tumor size
  • The location of the tumor in the body
  • How close the tumor is to normal radiation-sensitive tissues
  • The patient’s general health and medical history
  • Whether the patient is undergoing other types of cancer treatment
  • Other factors, such as age and other medical conditions

External radiology

External radiation therapy comes from a device that directly targets cancer-infected cells. The device used in this treatment is very large and can be noisy. There is no direct contact between the patient and the device, but it can move around it, sending radiation to a part of his body from several directions.

External radiation therapy is a local treatment, which means it treats a certain part of the body. For example, if the patient has lung cancer, he or she will have radiation only on the chest area, not the entire body.

How often should you undergo external radiotherapy?

Most people receive external radiation therapy once a day, five days a week, Monday to Friday. The patient will have radiation in a series of treatments to allow healthy cells to recover and make radiation more effective. The number of weeks the patient is undergoing treatment depends on the type of cancer he or she has, the goal of treatment, the radiation dose, and the radiation schedule. We call the time period of first to last radiation therapy as the course of treatment. Researchers are looking for different ways to adjust the radiation dose or schedule to reach the total dose of radiation faster or to reduce damage to healthy cells.

What should the patient wear during the session?

You should choose comfortable clothes made of soft cloth, such as wool or cotton. It should be easy to take off clothes, as it may need to detect the area of treatment or change to the hospital dress. Do not wear tight clothing, such as collars or waist bars near the treatment area. Also, jewelry, adhesive bandages or cosmetics cannot be worn in the treatment area.

What happens during the treatment session

You may have to wear a hospital dress. Then you’ll go to the treatment room where you’ll receive radiation. The temperature in this room will be very cold.

Depending on the location of cancer, you will lie on a treatment table or sit on a special chair.

The patient may see colored lights directed at the marks of his skin. These lights are harmless and help the therapist put the patient for treatment.

You will need to remain so static that the radiation moves to the exact same place each time. The patient will be exposed to radiation for 1 to 5 minutes. During this time, he can breathe normally.

The radiation therapist will leave the room before treatment begins. He’s going to a room next door to control the radiation device. The therapist monitors the patient on a TV screen or through a window and talks to him through a speaker in the treatment room. Be sure to tell your therapist if you are sick or uncomfortable. he can turn off the radiation device at any time. The patient will hear the radiation device and see it moving, but you will not be able to feel, hear, see or smell the radiation.

Most sessions last from 30 minutes to an hour, with most of the time spent in the right position.

Internal radiotherapy

Internal radiotherapy is a treatment in which a source of radiation is inside the body. The source of radiation can be solid or liquid.

In the case of the use of solid internal therapy, specialists will place seeds, strips, or capsules containing a source of radiation in or near the tumor. Topical radiation therapy, such as external radiation therapy, is a local treatment that treats only a specific part of the body. With topical radiation therapy, the radiation source in the body will release radiation for a period of time.

If you use liquid internal therapy, the treatment is transmitted in the blood to tissues throughout the body, in search of cancer cells and kills them. The patient receives liquid radiation therapy by swallowing, intravenously, via the IV line or by injection. With liquid radiation therapy, body fluids, such as urine, sweat, and saliva, will release radiation for a while.

What happens before the first session

He will have a one-to-two-hour meeting with his doctor or nurse to plan treatment before starting topical radiation therapy. At this time, he will undergo a physical examination, talk about his medical history, and possibly undergo imaging tests. The doctor will discuss the type of best topical treatment, its benefits and side effects, and the ways in which the patient can take care of himself during and after treatment. he can then decide whether or not to want topical radiation therapy.

How internal radiotherapy is used

Most topical radiation therapy is formulated through a catheter, which is a small stretchable tube. Sometimes, topical radiation therapy is developed through a larger device called the application tool. The method of topical radiation therapy depends on the type of cancer in the patient. Your doctor will put the catheter in the body before starting treatment.

Techniques for developing topical radiation therapy include :

  1. Topical treatment, where the source of radiation is placed inside the tumor. This technique is used for prostate cancer, for example.
  2. Topical radiation therapy inside the cavity, where the source of radiation is placed inside the body cavity or cavity resulting from surgery. For example, radiation can be placed in the vagina to treat cervical cancer or endometrial cancer.
  3. Topical therapy, where the source of radiation is attached to the eye. This technique is used to treat skin cancer in the eye.

Once the catheter or application tool is placed, the radiation source is placed inside it. The source of radiation may remain in for a few minutes, for several days or for the rest of your life. How long the device remains in the body depends on the type of radiation source, the type of cancer, the location of cancer in your body, your health, and other cancer treatments that the patient underwent.

Why cancer patients are receiving radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer and relieve cancer symptoms. When used to treat cancer, radiation therapy can treat cancer or prevent it from returning, stopping its growth or slowing it down.

When using treatments to relieve symptoms, which are known as palliative treatments. External radiation may reduce tumors to treat pain and other problems caused by the tumor, such as difficulty breathing or loss of control of the intestines and bladder. Cancer pain that has spread to the bones can be treated with internal radiotherapy drugs called radiation medications.

Cancers treated with radiation therapy

Doctors recommend the external radiotherapy to treat many cancers. Topical radiation therapy is useful to treat cancers of the head, neck, breast, cervix, prostate, and eye. Systemic radiation therapy called radioactive iodine, or I-131 is often used to treat certain types of thyroid cancer.

Another type of systemic radiotherapy called targeted radionuclide therapy, it is suitable to treat some patients with advanced prostate cancer or gastrointestinal pancreatic endocrine tumor. This type of treatment may also be referred to as molecular radiation therapy.

How radiation is used with other cancer treatments

For some people, radiation may be the only treatment they need. But, most of the time, they will have radiation therapy with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Doctors intend to use radiation therapy, during or after these other treatments to improve the chances of successful treatment. The timing of radiation therapy depends on the type of cancer and whether the patient is undergoing radiation therapy to treat cancer or relieve symptoms.

When radiation is combined with surgery,  doctors use radiation therapy :

  1. Before surgery, to reduce the size of cancer so that they can remove it by surgery and less likely to return.
  2. During surgery, so that goes directly to cancer without going through the skin. Using this technique, doctors can protect nearby natural tissues from radiation more easily.
  3. After surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

How many times can this treatment be used?

There is a limit to the amount of radiation that an area of the body can safely receive throughout life. Depending on the amount of radiation that the area has already taken, the patient may not be able to use radiation therapy for that area again. However, if one area of the body already receives a safe dose of radiation for life, another area may continue the treatment if the distance between the two areas is large enough.

Radiation therapy can cause side effects

Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, but it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects.

Many people receiving radiation therapy suffer from fatigue and feeling tired. It can happen simultaneously or come slowly. People feel tired in different ways and the patient may feel more or less tired than someone else who receives the same amount of radiation therapy for the same part of the body.

Other side effects of radiation therapy depend on the part of the body that undergoes the treatment for the most prominent of these symptoms:

  • Feeling sick
  • Hair loss
  • nausea
  • Changes in skin color
  • Headache
  • Blurry vision

How much does radiation therapy cost?

Radiation therapy can be expensive. Uses complex machines and includes the services of many healthcare providers. The exact cost of radiation therapy depends on the cost of health care where the patient lives, the type of radiation therapy he receives, and the number of treatments he or she needs.

Special nutritional needs

Radiation can cause side effects that make it difficult to eat foods, such as nausea, mouth sores, and throat problems called esophagitis. Since the body uses a lot of energy to heal during radiation therapy, it is important to eat enough calories and protein to maintain weight during treatment.

If you have difficulty eating and maintaining weight, you should talk to your doctor. He may also find it useful to talk to a dietitian.

Work during radiation therapy

Some people can work full-time during radiation therapy. Others can only work part-time or not at all. The patient’s ability to work depends on how he or she feels.

You are likely to feel good enough to work when you first start radiation therapy. Over time, the patient begins to feel more tired, has less energy, or feels weak. Once the treatment ends, it may take a few weeks for him to feel better – or it may take months depending on the patient’s condition.