Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy most often uses X-rays, but protons or other types of energy also can be used.The term “radiation therapy” most often refers to external beam radiation therapy. During this type of radiation, the high-energy beams come from a machine outside of your body that aims the beams at a precise point on your body. During a different type of radiation treatment called brachytherapy (brak-e-THER-uh-pee), radiation is placed inside your body.
Radiation therapy damages cells by destroying the genetic material that controls how cells grow and divide. While both healthy and cancerous cells are damaged by radiation therapy, the goal of radiation therapy is to destroy as few normal, healthy cells as possible. Normal cells can often repair much of the damage caused by radiation.
More than half of all people with cancer receive radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment. Doctors use radiation therapy to treat just about every type of cancer. Radiation therapy is also useful in treating some noncancerous (benign) tumors.
How radiation therapy is used in people with cancer.
Your doctor may suggest radiation therapy as an option at different times during your cancer treatment and for different reasons, including:
▪️As the only (primary) treatment for cancer.
▪️Before surgery, to shrink a cancerous tumor (neoadjuvant therapy).
▪️After surgery, to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells (adjuvant therapy).
▪️In combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, to destroy cancer cells.
▪️In advanced cancer to alleviate symptoms caused by the cancer.
Radiation therapy side effects depend on which part of your body is being exposed to radiation and how much radiation is used. You may experience no side effects, or you may experience several. Most side effects are temporary, can be controlled and generally disappear over time once treatment has ended.
1. Head and neck : Dry mouth, thickened saliva, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, changes in the way food tastes, nausea, mouth sores, tooth decay.
2. Chest :Difficulty swallowing, cough, shortness of breath.
3. Abdomen:Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
4. Pelvis: Diarrhea, bladder irritation, frequent urination, sexual dysfunction.
Some side effects may develop later.
For example, in rare circumstances a new cancer (second primary cancer) that’s different from the first one treated with radiation may develop years later. Ask your doctor about potential side effects, both short and long term, that may occur after your treatment.
Types of radiotherapy?
▪️Internal radiotherapy (Brachytherapy) : A radioactive material is inserted directly into or near the tumor, and the material is later restored or left in its place. The substance is injected through fine needles or tubes. This process is known as permanent internal therapy. In this case, small beads containing the radioactive material are inserted into the tumor, and the beads emit radiation at the site of the tumor for several days or weeks, until their ability to emit radiation.
▪️Teletherapy : It uses a beam directed at the tumor, and once the cancerous area is identified, a small tattoo of ink is placed over the cancerous area so that the radiation is focused on the same spot during each treatment. It is necessary to focus the beam on the cancer cells and protect the surrounding normal tissues from the radiation. Usually the patient undergoes several sessions at a rate of once a day and over five or six days a week and the sessions extend for several weeks.
When is radiotherapy chosen?
radiation therapy is often associated with other cancer treatments, such as surgical and chemotherapy, and the main goal of radiotherapy is to reduce the size of tumors and kill cancer cells, and radiation may target healthy cells as well, but it is not necessary to suffer damage. Cancer cells, as healthy cells have the ability to revive themselves.Radiation therapy may be chosen in each of the following cases:
▪️Relief of certain symptoms of advanced stages of cancer.
▪️Basic treatment to eliminate tumors .
▪️Use it in conjunction with other treatments (fighting the tumor from the inside and from the outside).
▪️Shrink the tumor before surgery.
▪️Elimination of cancer cells remaining after the option of surgery .