Cancer Care after Radiation Exposure: A Comprehensive Treatment Approach

Cancer Care after Radiation Exposure: A Comprehensive Treatment Approach

Radiotherapy, also called radiation therapy, uses targeted energy, including radioactive substances and X-rays, to destroy and shrink tumors, alleviate cancer-related symptoms, and destroy cancerous cells.

Doctors often use high-energy X-rays as well as other types of radiation therapy so as to damage DNA in cancerous cells, destroying or depriving them of their capability to divide and grow.

Radiation treatment doesn’t destroy cancerous cells right away. Over several weeks or days, and during treatment, the DNA in cancerous cells can be damaged enough that they can no longer reproduce.

Why Radiation Therapy Is Done

It is used to treat all kinds of cancer. As a matter of fact, over half of people with cancer can get radiation treatment as part of therapy.

Radiation treatment can also treat different conditions that aren’t cancerous. That includes tumors, such as benign tumors.

According to experts at UEW Healthcare, radiation treatment can be used for different reasons or at different times during therapy. Your care team might suggest radiation therapy:

  • With other forms of treatments, like chemotherapy to kill cancerous cells
  • After surgery to stop the growth of remaining cancerous cells
  • Before surgery so as to shrink cancer
  • As the only therapy for cancer

Types of Radiation Treatment

Radiation treatment for diagnosed prostate cancer is divided into two major types. These include external beam radiation and brachytherapy.

External beam radiation helps to deliver radiation from outside a patient’s body, mostly in the form of X-rays though it can sometimes be charged particles referred to as protons. External beam radiation includes hypofractionated radiation therapy, delivered over one or two weeks, and IG-IMRT (intensity-modulated, image-guided radiation therapy), and delivered over five weeks.

On the other hand, brachytherapy, also called internal radiation, can be subdivided further into high-dose and low-dose rates. For high-dose-rate, catheters are often placed into a patient’s prostate, and a high radiation dose gets delivered over a couple of minutes. Afterward, the source of radiation is removed from a patient’s body before they wake up. Doctors carefully place seeds that contain radiation in the prostate at a low-dose rate when the patient is under anesthesia. The seeds stay in a patient’s body after the brief procedure to give off the radiation dose for several months.

Managing Side Effects of Radiation

Normal radiation treatment can damage your body and result in unpleasant side effects, like nausea, fatigue, and skin changes, among other issues, based on your body part getting treated.

During your treatment, clinicians and therapists from various supportive care centers will work hand-in-hand to improve your quality of life and minimize side effects.

Some body parts can be more sensitive to radiation treatment when compared to others. And radiation treatment has a dosage limit. If your body part has been treated through radiation treatment before, the therapy will no longer be an option in that part. This is why it is best to talk to your doctor about dosage limits.

The Takeaway

Some patients often worry about radiation treatment’s safety. Although radiation treatment involves exposure to dangerous radioactive particles, it can safely treat cancer. But treatment centers should follow certain regulations to keep visitors, workers, and patients safe.