Do you know that close to 60% of cancer patients benefit from Radiation Therapy every year? This treatment either kills the cancer cells, or it can reduce the pain caused by this deadly disease.
Radiation Therapy can also be referred to as Radiotherapy, and it is a form of cancer treatment that uses Radiation Oncology —high-energy waves of radiation. There are two types of Radiation Therapy: External-beam and Internal Radiation.
External-beam therapy delivers radiation waves using a machine outside the body, whereas the treatment with internal radiation involves the placement of radioactive sources in the exact spot where the tumor is.
The type of radiation therapy a patient is given depends on a number of factors. Articulated below are some of the factors that Radiation Therapists consider:
- The tumor size
- The overall health of the patient.
- Age and medical history of the patient.
- The location of the tumor
- The proximity of the tumor to the normal body cells.
- Whether the patient will require a different type of cancer treatment.
With that said, let’s look at some other important facts about Radiation Oncology that you should know as you prepare to go through under this treatment.
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1. Radiation Oncology Side Effects
Radiation Oncology is an effective cancer treatment, especially when the cancer is discovered at an early stage, but that doesn’t mean that it has no side effects. Radiation therapy can cause early or late side effects.
When the high-energy waves of radiation are released to kill the cancer cells, the normal cells which are at close proximity can also get damaged. But not every patient experiences this, but this side effect is a possibility. Skin changes and fatigue are some of the side effects associated with radiation oncology.
2. Radiation Oncology Can be Used with other Cancer Treatment Methods
Radiation Oncology can be used to treat cancer with or without treatment methods. If used in conjunction with other treatment methods, Radiation Oncology can be done alongside surgery or chemotherapy. The cancer tumor can be shrunk using Radiation therapy, and this can make the tumor more manageable for other forms of treatments. In some ınstances, depending on the type of cancer being treated, doctors may start by using radiosensitizers drugs that help Radiotherapy to be more effective.
3. Some Types of Radiation Therapy Require that you Take Precautions
A person cannot become radioactive after receiving external radiation therapy. But with internal radiation therapy, your body can give off a small amount of radiation for a certain period of time. In such instances, your healthcare team might recommend you to limit your time with children and pregnant women during a radioactive period. Your body fluids and other personal items such as towels may also be radioactive.
4. Radiation Therapy to the Brain Will Make Me Lose Scalp Hair
When receiving radiation therapy to the brain, you are bound to have a hair loss on the head. If you are receiving radiation on any other part of your body, you will not experience hair loss on the head. This side effect is more common in chemotherapy than it is with radiation therapy. Patients who are receiving radiation to the breast might lose hair in the treated area; for instance, patients with breast cancer can lose hair in the armpit.
5. Radiation Therapy Will Cause Patients to Feel Nauseated
This usually depends on the area of the body that is being treated using radiation therapy. If it’s the upper abdomen, liver or the brain that is being treated, there is a high risk of nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, this side effect can be handled by medications as well as treatments plan modifications.
6. Radiation Therapy Can Lead to Skin Peeling
Cancer patients being treated using radiation therapy can expect the skin to peel, redness, and darkening in the treatment area. Every patient is different, and their body can react differently to the treatment —and this also means that the magnitude of side effects can vary from one patient to the other. The skin is expected to improve gradually after the treatment has been completed.
7. Radiation Therapy Healthcare Team
To deliver radiation therapy, a team of healthcare professionals works side by side. This team typically includes the following:
Radiation Oncologist: This is the main doctor who specializes in cancer treatment using Radiation Oncology. This doctor is responsible for prescribing, planning, and overseeing the patient's radiation treatment plan.
Radiation Therapist: Suppose you come in for your radiation treatment, a radiation therapist is responsible for positioning you for treatment, and he/she will be operating the radiation machines.
Radiation Oncology Nurse: This is a professional who is responsible for explaining your radiation treatment and answering any questions. In case of any side effects after the treatment, the nurse will help you manage the side effects.
8. Radiation Therapy can Cause Another Cancer
There is a slight risk of getting another cancer when receiving radiation therapy. This is the reason why doctors have to weigh the possible benefits and risks before giving patient radiation therapy. In most cases, the risk of getting another cancer is outweighed by the benefits of treating cancer.
9. Radiation Therapy can Affect a Fetus
When receiving radiation therapy, it’s important not to get pregnant because the treatment can harm an unborn baby. If you are already pregnant, it’s wise to inform your doctor right away.
10. Acıbadem International Hospital Has the Latest Radiation Therapy Equipment
Since being established in 2005, the Acıbadem International Hospital has been regarded as a reference hospital for foreign patients who are suffering from cancer. The hospital is Turkey’s pioneers of modern healthcare services, and it has a Radiation Therapy department that provides the best services to cancer patients through a multidisciplinary approach and experienced team. The hospital is successful in providing state-of-the-art radiotherapy services because its Cancer Care Team keep tabs with the latest technological and scientific developments in the world of radiation oncology.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in September 2019.