The different types of cancer accounted for nearly 10 million deaths worldwide in 2020. It has become one of the leading illnesses worldwide due to emerging lifestyles and genetic mutations.
There are multiple methods to treat cancer, some of them more effective than others. Based on the type of cancer you have, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy for you. It is one of the main treatments to cure individuals of cancer.
Radiation Therapy for People with Cancer
Radiation therapy refers to a form of cancer treatment that uses intense energy beams to kill cancerous cells. The therapy usually involves the use of x-rays, but other types of energy can also be used.
The radiation can originate from outside (external beam radiation therapy) or inside (brachytherapy) your body. The treatment involves destroying the genetic information that controls the division and growth of your cells within your cell.
Although it can be effective, radiation therapy side effects. They can be prominent or minimal, depending on the extent of the treatment, and even the type of cancer a person has.
Types of Cells that are Affected by Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy affects both healthy and cancer-ridden cells. However, the aim is for it to damage as few healthy cells as possible, while majorly targeting only the cancerous cells.
However, there’s no need to worry about any irreversible damage caused by radiation therapy, as healthy cells can repair themselves from the damage.
The therapy doesn’t kill cancerous cells right away, and multiple sessions are needed to damage the DNA enough so that the cells die. It is not only used to treat cancer but is also beneficial for treating noncancerous benign tumors.
Results Dependent on Cancer Type
Radiation therapy has side effects, but the results can vary based on the level of radiation used and the frequency of the treatments. The type of cancer being treated can also play a role as it primarily determines the level of radiation used in its treatment.
Common side effects include:
- Skin redness/soreness
- Upset bowel
- Sore mouth or throat
- Hair loss
- Shortness of breath
While side effects are generally mild, rare cases may require hospitalization, in which case the radiation therapy may be stopped temporarily or permanently.
Your physician will give you a set of guidelines to follow when preparing for your radiation therapy. Normally, the preparation will require you to be in a comfortable position for the duration of your session.
You are required to lie still during your session so that the beams can correctly target the specific area where the cells need to be damaged. Restraints and cushions can also be used to help you maintain your position.
You will also need to go through a CT scan before your first radiation therapy begins.
Radiation Therapy Outcomes
After the completion of your radiation therapy, you will be required to undergo regular scans at specific intervals to ensure that no traces of cancer remain in your body.
The effects of radiation therapy are short-term, and you may respond to the treatment immediately, or it may take longer. In some cases, radiation therapy doesn’t affect the cancerous cells at all, in which case your physician will advise alternate treatments for you.