Radiation therapy is also known as radiotherapy. Some types of cancer may require radiation therapy, and patients may be frightened when they first hear about it. However, there is nothing to be afraid of. You will understand this better by acquiring the following information.
Treating cancer with radiation
Radiation therapy , or radiotherapy , uses high-energy waves or particles to treat malignant or benign cancers . Radiation therapy is typically a local cancer treatment. This means that it treats the cancer in a specific area and does not spread throughout your body. Radiation therapy can sometimes be a systemic treatment (in your entire body) in the form of radioactive drugs or radiopharmaceuticals. Read on to learn the details, including when and how radiation therapy is used and what to expect from radiation therapy.
1. Radiation stops the rapid growth of cancer cells.
Radiation damages the DNA inside cells. This prevents them from growing and dividing. Cancer cells grow uncontrollably and multiply by dividing. Radiation therapy is effective in stopping this rapid growth. Radiation therapy can also damage normal cells, but most normal cells eventually recover. The goal is to damage as many cancer cells as possible and as few normal cells as possible.
2. Doctors use radiation therapy alone or in combination with other cancer treatments.
Doctors may use radiation therapy alone to treat a cancer. Also, radiation therapy may be part of a combined treatment plan with surgery or chemotherapy . Radiation therapy can help shrink tumors and make them more manageable before other treatments. It can also make chemotherapy more effective and kill any cancer cells left over from the surgery. Sometimes doctors also use certain medications that help radiation therapy work better.
3. Radiation therapy can be external, internal or systemic.
How radiation therapy is administered depends on the type of cancer. External radiation therapy works by transmitting a beam of radiation from a machine outside the body. Internal radiation – or brachytherapy – emits radiation from a sealed implant inside the body (that implant is in or near the tumor). In systemic radiation therapy, radiation is delivered to the body via pills or injections.
4. Side effects depend on the treatment site.
Radiation therapy can cause early and late side effects. The treatment site directly affects the patient’s symptoms. In general, side effects occur early during treatment. Fatigue and skin changes are common early side effects. Late side effects occur months or years after treatment and are usually permanent. You can ask your doctor what side effects you can expect from your treatment and how to avoid them. It is also wise to prepare for radiation therapy in advance.
5. You should take precautions in some types of radiation therapy.
External radiation therapy does not make a person radioactive. Internal radiation therapy can make your body deliver low levels of radioactive energy. However, body fluids and the items you use in internal radiation therapy will not be radioactive. During internal radiation therapy, you may need to limit your time with children and pregnant women. Systemic radiation therapy will make your bodily fluids and personal items such as towels radioactive. You should consult your doctor about special precautions regarding systemic radiation therapy.
6. Many people continue their normal routines during radiation therapy.
While side effects may make some days more difficult than others, some laws require employers to make adjustments to their work schedules for the worker to accommodate cancer treatment. ALO 170 can provide guidance on your rights in this regard. You can also get more information by contacting the Turkish Cancer Society .
7. Take steps to protect your health during radiation therapy.
It is important to protect your health during radiation therapy. Take extra care to rest, as fatigue is common. You may also need to pamper your skin during treatment. Tell your doctor about the changes in your skin and ask for specific skin care strategies. Washing your skin with mild cleansers and warm water can help. Consult your doctor before using lotions and other products on your skin, as these products may interfere with treatment.
8. Understand the goals of your treatment and how it may affect you.
Radiation therapy is administered in a variety of ways. The way radiation therapy affects you and the possible side effects depend on how and where the radiation goes. It is very important to understand the goals of your radiation therapy, how and when you will receive it, and how it may affect you. Be honest with your doctor and ask any questions you have in mind. Find out how you can expect to feel and what you can do to feel good.