Radiation therapy treats cancers with the use of radiation or high-energy waves to kill cancer cells. The primary goal of this treatment is to destroy or eliminate cancer without hurting too many healthy cells. Cancer patients can consider radiation therapy around the time of surgery or chemotherapy. When you get radiation therapy, you need to consult with the cancer doctor specialist. Nowadays, you can directly consult with a radiation therapy specialist in Tamil Nadu before considering the severity of the cancer rate. However, this article provides insights about radiation therapy, its benefits and side effects.

Types of radiation therapy:

Radiation therapy acts as a regional treatment, compared to other cancer treatments like chemotherapy which affects the entire body. This means it usually only affects the area of the body where the cancer is located. While treatment may cause some damage to healthy tissue close to cancerous cells, this tissue typically recovers after the treatment is finished.

Radiation therapy comes in various forms, and each alternately destroys cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and Internal radiation therapy are two main types. These therapies work with and without DNA instructions to destroy the cancer cells and restrict their ability to grow and multiply, leading to cancer cell death or tumors shrinking.

External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

This is one of the most common types of radiotherapy where a machine leads a beam of high-energy radiation towards the tumor. The energy may be X-rays, electrons or protons where precision is important. Radiation oncologists will create a treatment plan to target the tumor and minimize damage to healthy tissue. The other forms of EBRT are,

  • 3D conformal radiation therapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • Arc-based radiotherapy
  • Image-guided radiotherapy
  • Particle therapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy
  • Intraoperative radiation

Internal radiation therapy:

  • Brachytherapy: It involves placing radioactive materials inside the body near the cancer or surrounding tissue. Implants may be permanent or temporary based on the patient’s body.
  • Radioisotope therapy
  • Radioimmunotherapy (RIT)
  • Radioembolization

What are the benefits of radiation therapy?

  • Avoids major surgery and associated risks like illness, blood transfusion, or blood loss.
  • The prostate receives the maximum amount of radiation effects while surrounding tissue receives the minimal radiation.
  • Though it is a non-surgery treatment, recovery may take time, but not a prolonged period. However, some patients may feel discomfort or experience side effects of radiation treatment.
  • This therapy is suitable for localized cancers. And it is essential to consult with the doctors for certain cases.
  • Kills cancer cells or significantly lowers the cancer cells while protecting the other organs and tissues.
  • Radiation therapy can be applied as supportive care to individuals experiencing pain from bone metastases.
  • Treatment sessions only last ten to fifteen minutes that allows patients to maintain their regular activities.
  • This therapy can be applied to treat any cancer cells that remain after surgery.

The common side effects of radiation therapy:

  • Skin changes: Dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling of the skin in the treated area is a common side effect of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy-related skin changes typically disappear within two weeks following therapy finishes. Your doctor may decide to modify your treatment plan if skin damage develops into a significant issue. Changes in the skin may be helped by lotion, but make sure to ask your medical team what kind of cream they recommend and when to use it. It is also best for protecting sun-damaged skin from sunlight.
  • Fatigue, both physical and emotional: Even when you are getting enough rest and sleep, you may still feel physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. This is referred to as fatigue. Fatigue is a common symptom among cancer patients. If you are undergoing more than one kind of treatment, for example, radiation therapy and chemotherapy you might feel more exhausted.
  • Long-term side effects: After treatment, most side effects disappear. However, some carry on, return, or develop later. It refers to these as late or long-term side effects. The emergence of a second cancer is one potential side effect. However there is the least chance of second cancer after radiation therapy, you need to consult with the doctors about any recurring symptoms.

You need to understand that side effects may also depend on the type of cancer, its causes and the location where radiation therapy occurs. For instance, if you’re treated with radiation therapy on the head or neck, then you may find difficulties like dry mouth, stiffness in the jaw, nausea, hair loss, tooth decay, mouth and gum sores.

Conclusion: Some patients may experience no side effects from radiation therapy, while others may need time to rest. It is advisable to discuss your circumstances with the doctors before planning your treatment. Do not hesitate to seek advice from the specialist for radiation therapy in Salem, as various forms of radiation therapy target specific cancers and tumor types. If you’re unsure about the treatment schedule, book a consultation with our doctors for personalized guidance.