Cancer is a scary word. But when you know all the facts, knowledge and understanding can reduce the fear. Find out everything you need to know about cancer and its effects...

Cancer Radiotherapy

Cancer Radiotherapy utilizes high energy levels of radiation to reduce the size of tumours and destroy cancer cells.  The types of radiation that are used for this treatment are x-rays, gamma rays and charged particles.  The radiation may be done through the use of equipment just like in external beam radiation therapy or a radioactive material may be incorporated in the body and placed within the vicinity of teh cancerous cells such as in internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy. There are also instances wherein radioactive iodine in systemic radiation therapy is in the bloodstream to destroy the damaged cells.

How does Cancer Radiotherapy work?

Cancer Radiotherapy destroys the cancerous cells by inflicting damage on their DNA, thus preventing them from multiplying and passing on the genetic information that carries the disease. Cancer Radiotherapy may damage the DNA itself or generate free radicals that can destroy the DNA.  However, radiation therapy may also damage healthy cells which result to its side effects.

Factors to consider for radiation therapy

Cancer Radiotherapy varies from patient to patient depending on the type of cancer, the size, location and grade of the tumour, the distance with which the radiation has to travel to reach the tumour, the general health status of the patient and other cancer treatments that are in conjunction with radiation therapy.  It is then very important to employ the best possible radiation oncologist you can find who will assess the patient’s condition and provide the proper radiation therapy treatment plan.

When is cancer radiotherapy done?

A doctor may plan to provide Cancer Radiotherapy to a patient prior to, during or after surgical procedures is done. There are some patients who are only instructed to undergo Cancer Radiotherapy only.  Other patients are instructed to receive Cancer Radiotherapy along with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy at the same time, referred to as chemoradiation or radiochemotherapy. It is very important to have a follow up check up after each session of Cancer Radiotherapy to make sure that  your progress in monitored and side effects are noted.

Side Effects of Cancer Radiotherapy

Just like in any type of cancer treatment, Cancer Radiotherapy also has acute and chronic side effects.   Usually, the side effects are manifested in the area being treated and its severity will depend on the dose given to the patient, the overall health status of the patient and other cancer treatments administered on the patient.

Acute side effects of Cancer Radiotherapy include damage to the quickly multiplying normal cells in the body, especially in the location of the tumour removed.  The patient may experience irritation on the skin and damage to the tissues.  Usually, these side effects disappear a few days or weeks after the treatment.

Chronic side effects of Cancer Radiotherapy include fibrosis or restricted movement in the area that is being treated, damage to the large intestine leading to diarrhea or bleeding, loss of memory and other cognitive process, inability to have a child, and a second type of cancer due to exposure to radioactive material.

Cancer Radiotherapy