According to the World Cancer Research Fund, countries from Europe, North America, and Oceania have the highest death rates caused by cancer. Similarly, last year, the USA's National Cancer Institute revealed in a report that a total of 609,640 people would die in the same year as a result of this deadly disease.
For the past few decades, scientists have been trying to figure out how to come up with an ultimate cure for cancer. Although the progress has been making baby steps, it's important to acknowledge that it has been there. In one of their newsletters, the Worldwide Cancer Research even announced that there had been notable progress in this noble cause.
One of the most common treatments used to combat cancer is Radiation Therapy or Radiation Oncology. The Medical News Today reports that 60% of cancer patients benefit from this treatment, which is sometimes used in unison with chemotherapy.
This article seeks to shed more light on the latest technologies of Radiation Oncology, how it is used, and where to find clinics that offer this treatment in Turkey.
What is Radiation Oncology?
By definition, Radiation Oncology is a medical specialty that involves the use of high doses of radiation to either treat, reduces pain, or cure cancer. This medical specialty is delivered by a radiation oncology team that consists of Radiation Oncologists, Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists, and Radiation Therapists.
Radiation Oncology comprises of every aspect of research that impacts cancer treatment using high doses of radiation. The published findings in this research are in molecular and cellular radiation biology, radiation physics, clinical oncology, as well as radiation technology. Basically, this Radiation Oncology encompasses the integration of radiation therapy into several treatment approaches.
It is a broad field in the sense that it provides an open-access platform for researchers and clinicians (from all over the world) to bring forward and merge any research advancement in the treatment of cancer. This is based on the idea that any advances made in treatment technology will make radiation oncology even more effective.
The two main types of Radiation Therapy are external-beam and internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy. External-beam (is the most common) delivers controlled high doses of radiation using a machine outside the body, whereas internal radiation therapy involves temporary or permanent placement of radioactive sources where the tumor is.
Listed below are some of the factors that are considered by any Cancer Care team when they are deliberating on the type of Radiation Therapy to give a patient:
● The cancer type
● 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.
Of course, clinics use different criteria and have various factors to consider when deciding on the radiotherapy a cancer patient will receive, but the above-listed factors are the most pertinent ones.
Cancer can be treated using this Radiation Oncology method, especially when it is discovered at an early stage.
What is it used for?
As mentioned earlier, Radiation Oncology can either treat, reduce pain, or cure cancer. It achieves this by realizing radiation doses that can puncture and kills the DNA inside the cancer cells, slow their growth, or even stop them from spreading. But this depends on the type of tumor since some types of cancer may be very sensitive to radiotherapy.
In some cases, high radiation doses can also enable surgery by alleviating cancer symptoms and shrinking cancer tumors.
What’s the latest in Radiation Oncology Technology?
With cancer being the cause of many deaths in different continents, it's logical to invest in technological, clinical as well as lab research that may assist in fighting cancer. This will help a considerable number of people who have cancer to benefit from high quality, safe, and efficient radiotherapy services.
Even to this day, the technology used in radiation oncology is still evolving. Recent studies have indicated that there has been a rapid decline in the cancer mortality rate compared to the previous decades. The latest technology used in radiation oncology has short treatments, fewer side effects, and it enhances the patient's quality of life.
Recent advances in radiation oncology provide a 3D image of tumors that helps with the targeting of radiation beams to cancer, limiting damage to normal cells which are closeby.
There is also an ongoing investigation of drugs that help sensitize cancer cells to the effects of radiation waves -this will make it easy to kill the cancer cells using radiotherapy.
In the meantime, there are protective drugs which are effective in helping normal cells recover swiftly after being exposed to radiation waves.
Where are the best hospitals that I can have?
Cancer treatment is not new in Turkey. Ever since the country’s Minister of Labor and Social Security announced that all citizens with social benefits would receive cancer treatment for free, a number of medical facilities such as Acıbadem Maslak Hospital have been treating cancer patients every month. As it aims to combat this deadly ailment, Turkey runs 198 cancer treatment centers. This is inclusive of 33 mobile units for early diagnosis, medical check-ups, and awareness.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in July 2019.