One of the reasons why radiation therapy is used in the treatment of cancer is because cancer cells are very fast in growing and it is important to deal with them as soon as possible. Radiation therapy prevents the development of the illness by destroying cancerous cells and making it impossible for them to grow and spread further.
Radiation therapy uses different radiation sources for the treatment of different cancer types. Actually, at the present moment it is possible to treat or at least alleviate almost all cancer types. X-Rays, Gamma Rays, and Particle Beams of electrons, protons or neutrons are used in these purposes.
Radiation therapy can be divided into the following types:
First in the list of the therapies using radiation is external radiation. As the name suggests, this radiation therapy is used to produce an effect on the outer part of a person’s body. In case this procedure takes place, a person is not hospitalized.
The nest radiation therapy is internal, or it is also called brachytherapy. This is a different way of treating cancerous cells that presupposes the placement of small capsules that are radioactive inside the body close to the parts that are affected. This procedure cannot be done without a hospitalization.
In case of systemic radiation an injection with radioactive substance is made into the vein of a person. By means of bloodstream it is transferred into all the parts of the organism treating cancer. This is a serious procedure and requires hospitalization.
The last type of radiation therapy is intra-operative radiation. It presupposes that radiation is combined with a surgery and is done simultaneously. When a surgery takes place, an external radiation beam is directed into the area affected, treating it. Surely enough, this procedure takes place only when a person is hospitalized.
External radiation therapy is perhaps, the most frequent one. It is performed and after it a person can go back home and there is no need for any special care or the like. The treatment in general spread for several weeks while the effect is showing off.
Radiation therapy is a very serious step and it is never done without preparation of a person for it. First of all, cancer location and its size are determined as well as its type and the method the beams will be delivered. It is important to deliver them to the particular place in order not to do harm to healthy cells and a person?s health in general, taking into consideration the power of radiation.
Pre-radiation session represents a procedure where a patient is asked to lie down and a doctor places shields all around the healthy parts of the organism in order to protect them. Radiation machine is made such a way that it shows when the beams are delivered to the affected area – in other words when the radiation session takes place. It is not long – generally it takes not more than few minutes when a patient should lie still and breathe as usual.
Radiation therapy, as it was mentioned, is very strong and therefore it is dosed and applied to the affected parts only. The thing is that overexposure to the radioactive rays can be fraught with a lot of different unpleasant consequences and adverse effects. It is always a risk of some kind but in many cases it is worth the try as a person’s life can be saved.
Fatigue is reported to be one of the most frequent adverse effects of radiation therapy. Besides, one more, that is more unpleasant form the aesthetic point of view – hair loss. Mostly hair is lost in the areas where the therapy is applied. Irritation of skin is also very frequent.
Besides, radiation therapy is also frequently fraught with dryness in the mouth and sore throat as well as nausea and problematic swallowing. Sometimes loss of sexual function is observed and problems with urination and diarrhea are observed as well as a lot of many other different side-effects. The latter cases are frequent when the pelvic area is treated with radiation. Abdominal area when treated with radiation can cause.
To cap it all, every person who is planning to undergo the procedure of radiation therapy should be prepared and know what to expect and what adverse effects can be. In many cases this is, however, the only possible way to keep the illness at bay and make a person feel better at least for a period of time.