If you tested positive for cancer, your doctor may recommend radiation treatment. Radiation treatments are highly effective in treating many types of cancer. In some cases, it can eliminate your cancer without surgery. However, it is not for everyone, and there are risks. Here is more information on radiation cancer therapy, how it works, its risks, and benefits.
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is a procedure where a radiologist uses radiation to kill cancer and shrink tumors. It can also help keep tumors small and reduce cancer spread. Radiation therapy can also help keep the cancer from returning after surgery.
How Does Radiation Therapy Work?
Radiation therapy involves directing radioactively-charged particles at the tumor. Your oncologist may use several methods to do this based on your case. Below is a list of three common types of radiation therapy.
External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation works by targeting the tumor with a directed radiation beam. You receive regular doses every day, usually for several weeks.
Internal radiation is also known as brachytherapy. It involves the doctor inserting radioactive material, like a catheter, near your tumor. Oncologists often use it for prostate and cervical cancers. The doctor usually removes the material after treatment, but sometimes the treatment is long-term.
With systemic radiation, you will receive an injection or oral administration of radioactive medicine. It is useful for bone and thyroid cancers.
What Are the Benefits of Radiation Therapy?
The main benefit of radiation therapy is that it is highly effective. It is especially useful in early-stage cancers and small tumors. It can also kill cancer cells that the surgeon can't see. Radiation therapy can help prevent cancer from spreading.
Radiation therapy also increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy. It is also relatively painless. You can do these treatments on an outpatient basis. You will go home after each treatment barring any unusual complications.
What Are the Risks of Radiation Therapy?
Radiation exposure has many risks. For example, you have a lifetime limit as to how much radiation you can receive. Usually, the radiologist spaces out the treatments so you don't get an overdose. However, if you receive a maximum amount, you may be unable to re-treat that area.
Radiation doesn't work with large tumors of those without a good blood supply. Radiation could damage healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. It can also make you feel ill or tired. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems may not be good candidates.
Your oncologist will tailor your radiation treatment to your situation. In some cases, you may need other therapies in addition to radiation. Radiation therapy may reduce your risk of needing surgery but doesn't eliminate it. If you want to know more or have more specific questions about radiation therapy, talk to your doctor.
For more information on cancer treatment, contact a professional near you.Share
12 July 2023
After watching my mother navigate treatment for breast cancer in my early teens, I knew pretty much what to expect from my dad's diagnosis with prostate cancer. What I didn't know was how different chemotherapy and radiation can affect different people. My mother became very ill while my dad seemed to weather the treatments with few ill effects. I spent a long time researching the differences in treatments, types of chemotherapy, and how each one can react differently with the body. I created this blog to help others understand the same things, because I knew I couldn't be the only one unfamiliar with it. I hope it helps you if someone you love is facing treatment for any type of cancer.