AD Collaborative Post // Radiation therapy is the treatment to destroy cancer cells. The therapy uses radiation in the form of high energy x-rays or other energy particles like gamma, electron beams, or protons. These energy rays are focused on specific areas of the body to damage the cells’ DNA.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Healthy cells, which have not been affected by cancer, can fight off radiation exposure and recover much better than cancerous cells. With radiation therapy, cancer cells are damaged to limit their growth. If you want more information on “what is radiation therapy?” the following article will give you all the answers.
What is Radiation Therapy and Its Goals?
This therapy aims to destroy cancer cells, slow tumour growth while ensuring the health of the nearby non-cancerous cells. Radiation therapy can be advised as the first treatment to deal with cancer, or it can be advised after the initial treatment, like surgery to deal with the remaining cancer cells.
In advanced cancer cases, radiation therapy is administered to improve the patient’s quality of life. This type of treatment is also known as palliative care, wherein symptoms like pain and pressure are treated.
According to a radiotherapy report released by the Australian government, 59% of radiotherapy courses were administered to treat cancer, while 40% of courses were intended for palliative care.
What are the Types of Radiation Therapy?
There are two categories of radiation therapy:
- External beam radiation
- Internal beam radiation (also known as Brachytherapy)
External beam radiation uses a machine like a linear accelerator outside the body to deliver radiation to specific areas on the patient’s body. The radiation beam size and shape can be controlled with software, limiting the damage to healthy cells. The patient requires several short visits to the treatment facility to receive a short dose of radiation until the target dose is complete.
Internal beam radiation involves placing radiation implants into the cancer cells or the surrounding areas. These implants can be permanent or temporary and may require a short hospital stay. Some safety measures to follow are:
- Avoid any contact with children and pregnant women.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Visitors should stay a minimum of 6 feet away from the patient and limit their contact to 30 minutes or less in a day.
What are the Common Side Effects of Radiation Therapy?
Now that you know what radiation therapy is, here’s a look at its side effects. Different patients react differently to radiation therapy. At the same time, some may experience mild to extreme side effects, while some may experience none.
The most common side effects are:
- Dryness of skin
- Body ache
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
These side effects can be prevented or relieved post-treatment. The emotional side effects of undergoing radiation therapy can take a toll on your mental health. Do seek help for any physical or emotional concerns you may have.
Radiation therapy is a promising treatment that aids in curing cancer. In advanced cases, this therapy can improve a patient’s quality of life. You could visit any of the radiation oncology centres in Australia to know more about what is radiation therapy and how it can help with your condition.
I have – thank goodness – never needed to look into something like this before. That being said, this was such an interesting read – I definitely learnt a lot that I hadn’t known before, which is always a good thing. Thanks for highlighting!
Yes, I had 30 doses of External beam radiotherapy back in 2017. The treatment made me feel absolutely terrible. It killed the cancer, but I will have to live with its after-effects for the rest of my life. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.