Radiation therapy treats different types of cancer. However, side effects are inevitable part of this treatment. Side effects may vary from one person to another. The kind of side effects is directly proportional to the level of radiation exposure during treatment, type of cancer, location and the quality of health.
Radiation therapy uses waves of radiations to treat cancerous growths and tumors. This treatment is also beneficial in curbing the noncancerous growth.
It is a little bit complex to understand how radiation works. Regular treatment can break the DNA of cancer cells. This keeps a check on the growth of cancer cells and killing them.
Radiation therapy in combination with other treatments as well as at its own gives good results. Above all, a cancer specialist will decide the treatment in accordance to the growth of cancer cells.
Types of radiation therapy
External beam radiation therapy: A radiation beam is focused on a specific area with the help of an external machine.
Internal radiation therapy: A radioactive substance is inserted near the cancerous tissue.
Uses of radiation therapy
Therefore, this therapy is suitable for those cancerous growths of a specific area. This helps radiation therapy to target the whole area, which is having cancerous tissues.
Here are a few ways to deploy radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy treats prostate cancer, tumor of the larynx and other tumors as well.
With surgical treatment
Radiation therapy is also beneficial in the treatment of cancer before or after the surgery. This helps the tumor to shrink and to minimize the growth of cancer cells.
In combination with other treatments, chemotherapy can reduce the chances of surgery significantly.
Tumors of the breast, rectum, lung, and esophagus are treated successfully by the above-mentioned ways of radiation.
Side effects of radiation therapy
Radiation therapy damages healthy cells and tissues along with cancerous growth. This is responsible for side effects. With the help of major advances in radiation therapy, surgeons can now make it precise. This is helpful in decreasing the side effects.
Radiation therapy will only affect that specific part of the body where the tumor is located. In this kind of treatment, people will not lose their hair, but when this radiation therapy is given to the scalp, and then it is obvious that it will cause hair loss.
Skin problems like dryness, blistering, peeling, itching will show after this treatment. Almost every skin problem will vanish with the end of the treatment.
This means to have an exhausted or tired feeling all the time. Sometimes the treatment combination of radiation therapy with chemotherapy is responsible to cause more fatigue. Patients need to have a word with their counselor about how to cope with fatigue.
Long-term side effects
Most of the side effects or complications go away when your treatment ends. However, there are some symptoms, which develop later. These side effects are called late effects. For instance, some people have noticed the growth of a second cancer, a couple of months after taking this treatment.
Site-specific side effects
Head and neck
People who take radiation therapy on their head or neck, they are much likely to get these side effects.
• Mouth and gums soreness
• Dryness in the mouth
• Difficulty in selling
• Stiff jaw
• Hair loss
Stomach and abdomen
Similarly, radiation therapy for abdomen will cause the underwritten side effects.
• Vomiting and nausea
These symptoms will disappear at their own. Your Doctor will prescribe medicines to deal with these side effects.
Radiation therapy given for chest may give birth to these side effects.
• Shortness of breath
• Stiffness and shoulders
• Soreness of nipples
• Difficulty in swallowing
It is imperative to let your Doctor know that you are struggling with fatigue or other health issues.
In order to cure your disease at the earliest possible, make sure to take your medications regularly on time. Take good amount of rest and stay active. Eat healthy foods and have a word with your counselor. Your counselor will suggest you different ways to conserve energy and deal with stress.