Radiation therapy cannot cure metastatic cancers or very large tumours. The tumours can be surgically removed before radiation therapy is applied. Patients suffering from connective tissue diseases such as vasculitis or scleroderma are not good candidates for radiotherapy treatment, as these conditions make them too sensitive to the treatment’s side effects. Pregnant women are also not good candidates for radiotherapy treatment. If the patient was already treated with radiotherapy in a specific area, the same treatment cannot be used again.
10 to 30 minutes
Before radiation therapy, patients should avoid consuming alcohol or smoking. Also, before the treatment, it is recommended to have a healthy diet in order to strengthen the body.
Radiation therapy is performed in order to destroy the genetic material of damaged or malignant cells. With radiation therapy, the growth and the division of cancerous tissues are blocked.
During radiation therapy, a linear accelerator is used. The linear accelerator makes a solid and extremely exact beam of radiation that is focused on the patient's body. During the treatment, the patient lies on a table after that, and the linear accelerator would be sending radiation to the patient with different angles. Patients usually come in for treatment five days a week, with a few recuperation periods in between – the recuperation periods allow the patient's healthy cells to heal and recover.
Depending on the position of cancer and the treatment performed, patients have different reactions. After the treatment, most of the patients feel tired for a few months.
There are some risks and complications related to the radiotherapy treatment, which may involve:
● Cancer – 0.1% of patients get cancer 20 to 30 years after the treatment
● Heart disease
● Tissue fibrosis – the tissue becomes less flexible
Radiation Therapy Side Effects
There are several side effects of radiotherapy, which might include vomiting and nausea, damage to skin tissue, fatigue, hair loss, swelling, intestinal discomfort, stomach, throat, and mouth sores.
Radiotherapy side effects can include one or more of the following: ● Vomiting and nausea ● Damage to skin tissue ● Fatigue ● Hair loss ● Swelling ● Intestinal discomfort ● Stomach, throat and mouth sores
Depending on the patient's medical condition, the success rate of radiotherapy varies. Usually, the benefits of radiotherapy treatment are greater than the risks related to the procedure.
In order to follow the responding of cancer or the tumor, patients are required to have regular scans and tests with their oncologist. The responding time of the disease or the tumor differs, it may respond immediately or in a few months or never.
– Is Radiation Therapy painful?
Radiotherapy treatment is not a painful procedure. Most patients do not feel anything. The only kind of pain which patients can experience as a result of radiotherapy treatment is the equivalent of a small sunburn.
– Radiotherapy vs. Chemotherapy – What is the difference?
As a result of the radiotherapy treatment tumors that are limited to a single area within the body can be destroyed, or they may shrink. However, chemotherapy is performed to treat cancer cases which are spread in different areas of the body.
– How long before I can return to work?
Generally, patients can work and live their regular lives while having radiotherapy treatment. It's not painful, and certain medications can help patients to handle the side effects better.
This content is written and reviewed by our medical content team in August, 2019.