Radiation therapy is a form of treatment to destroy cancer cells. High energy rays target specific body parts. Radiation therapy works as cancerous cells fall susceptible to the treatment, whereas non-cancerous cells recover well after being exposed to the rays.
According to a report by AIHW, 151,000 new cancer cases will diagnose in 2021. Another report mentions, in 2018-19, oncologists delivered only 74,200 courses of radiation therapy in Australia.
Experts at centres like Targeting Cancer say that radiation therapy often gets overlooked, but it could help prevent or cure the disease or improve the patient’s quality of life.
Take a look at what radiation therapy is and when you need it.
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays like gamma, x-rays, protons, or electron beams to damage the DNA of cancerous cells. These rays are focusing on a small and specific region of the body. Cancer cells destroy due to the beams, whereas the nearby healthy cells exposed to radiation recover much better.
Depending on your condition, your medical provider might advise you either of the two types of therapy:
- External beam radiation therapy
The patient will not be in pain during the delivery of the treatment. In external beam radiation, a machine outside the body delivers high-energy rays. Usually, patients undergo about five sessions a week, each session lasting for 15 minutes. In brachytherapy, radioactive sources are placing at the tumour site as a temporary or permanent measure depending on the patient’s condition.
Stats show that over 50% of cancer patients undergo radiation therapy as part of their treatment. Doctors may use a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy to treat patients with more advanced conditions.
When Do You Know If You Need Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is sometimes the first treatment. Other times, the treatment takes place after the patient has undergone surgery, medication, or chemotherapy. In the latter scenario, the therapy is used to destroy cancer cells left behind from the initial treatment.
Radiation therapy can be used in three cases:
If a tumour has been detecting in the body, then radiation could use to destroy those cancer cells and slow the growth of the tumour while ensuring nearby cells do not get affected.
If destroying all cancer cells is no longer possible, the treatment could help shrink the tumour size. The treatment could also help relieve symptoms such as pain and pressure. When you are receiving therapy intending to slow, stop, or curing cancer, you are opting for palliative care, and it has the capability of significantly improving the quality of your life.
Prophylactic care is when a patient undergoes treatment intending to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place. There are no signs that the disease is active in such cases, but the patient is at a high risk of developing cancer later on.
Radiation therapy is a highly specialised treatment delivered by qualified therapists and oncologists. According to experts in centres like Targeting Cancer, you can use radiation therapy to cure cancer or use it in conjunction with surgery and other therapies like chemotherapy. Talk to your medical health provider about radiation therapy and how it can best benefit your condition.
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Benefits of Radiation Therapy
There are several benefits to radiation therapy. Doctors run scans and tests to check if radiation therapy is the right option for the patients. The treatment works for people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer or in case of cancer recurrence. The most prominent benefits to choosing radiation therapy include:
- The pain is lower as compared to other cancer treatment options
- There are no risks of blood loss and blood transfusion
- The scope for contracting infections is lower
- Minimises exposure of healthy cells to dangerous cancerous cells
- Treatment sessions take very little time and don’t typically call for overnight hospital admissions
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to treat the tumour directly. Experts at platforms such as Targeting Cancer assert that the main goal of the therapy is to control the growth of the tumour. It’s vital to work with an expert cancer specialist for radiation therapy. While radiation therapy is an excellent treatment option, it may not be suitable in all cases. The treatment requirements of each patient are unique.
Some patients may need a combination of radiation therapy and surgery to send cancer into remission. The target of the treatment is to kill or eliminate the tumour to ensure that cancer does not recur. Patients can avail the benefits of radiation therapy by consulting expert medical doctors early on.
Side effects of radiation therapy are generally temporary and can control with medication. Working with an experienced medical expert will help ensure you get the best results from your radiation therapy treatment.