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Benefits of Radiotherapy for Cancer Treatment

Cancer is one of the most dangerous and scary diseases. One of the treatments taken is radiotherapy or radiation therapy by utilizing light as intensive energy to kill cancer cells.

Radiation therapy generally uses X-ray power, but can also utilize the power of protons or other types of energy. Radiation therapy functions to damage cancer cells by destroying cell genetic material that controls the growth and division of cancer cells.

Treating Various Types of Cancer

Most cancer patients will receive radiation therapy as part of treatment. Radiotherapy is used by doctors to help treat almost all types of cancer. Radiation therapy is also useful in treating several types of benign tumors. Here are some reasons why radiotherapy is done:

  • As the only type of treatment for cancer.
  • Combination with other types of treatment such as chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.
  • Stop the growth of cancer cells that are still there after surgery (adjuvant therapy).
  • Reducing the size of cancer before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy).
  • In advanced cancer, to relieve symptoms caused by cancer.

Types of Radiotherapy Treatment

In general, there are two types of radiotherapy used for cancer treatment, namely:

  • External radiotherapy. External radiotherapy is the most common type of radiotherapy. A machine will emit radiation, usually high-intensity X-rays. Radiation will be directed at the part of the body affected by cancer. Each session usually takes around 10-30 minutes. You will not feel sick or hot during therapy.
  • Internal radiotherapy. There are two ways internal radiotherapy is commonly done, namely:
  • Generally, the implants will be placed on the affected part of the body or nearby. The size and shape of the implant are very diverse with different radioactive material. Mainly used for cancer of the uterus, rectum, cervix, prostate, mouth, and neck.
  • By drinking liquids containing radioactive iodine. For example for the treatment of thyroid cancer. The radioactive iodine content will be absorbed by the bloodstream, then absorbed by thyroid cells either cancerous or normal. Iodine will then accumulate and destroy cells in the thyroid.

In addition, there are several new methods of radiotherapy that are used to fight cancer cells.

  • Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), which allows radiation to more accurately lead to cancer cells.
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) which is especially useful for the treatment of cancer in the head and neck.
  • Stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) that can be used by directing to small-sized cancers.
  • Proton beam therapy or proton beam therapy can also minimize healthy tissue to be exposed to radiation thanks to the high accuracy of cancer alone.

Consider the Risk of Side Effects

The side effects of radiotherapy depend on which part of the body is exposed to radiation and how much intensity is used. It is possible for someone not to experience side effects, while others experience some side effects at once.

Most of the side effects are temporary, able to be controlled, and most importantly, they will disappear soon after the therapy is complete.

  • Head and neck. Radiotherapy is done around the head and neck, the possible side effects include dry mouth conditions, thickened saliva, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, changes in taste in food consumed, nausea, canker sores, and damage to teeth.
  • Radiation therapy performed on the chest can cause side effects such as coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing.
  • In the abdomen, side effects that occur are usually nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Side effects can include bladder irritation, frequent urination, diarrhea, and sexual dysfunction as a result of radiation therapy carried out around the pelvis.

In addition, there are also common risks to complain after radiation therapy, including hair loss, skin irritation at the therapy site, and fatigue.

These effects will usually decrease a few days or weeks after treatment is complete. Although rare, radiotherapy also has a possible long-term impact. For example, treatment of the genitals or pelvis risks causing permanent sterility.

Doctors and nurses will usually give advice about applied and possible side effects. The following are simple things that need to be done to prevent radiotherapy side effects:

  • Make sure the body has enough rest
  • Eat balanced and nutritious food
  • Take care of the skin in the radiation area
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing
  • Do not rub, scratch or use plaster
  • Do not put hot or cold compresses in the radiation area
  • Protect the radiation area from sunlight

Things that must be prepared

Before you undergo external beam radiation therapy, the medical team will provide guidance in a planning process to ensure that radiation reaches the exact location of the body parts that need it. Generally planning includes:

  • Radiation simulation. During the simulation, the radiation therapy team will ask you to lie in a position that makes you comfortable. Pillows and barriers are used to ensure your position does not change during therapy. Then your body parts to be treated will be marked.
  • Scan plan. The radiation therapy team will do a scan with a computerized tomography or CT scan to determine the area of the body that needs radiation.

After the planning process, the radiotherapy team will decide on the type of radiation and the dose that the patient will receive based on the type and stage of cancer, the overall health of the patient, and the reason for the radiotherapy. The right focus and dose of radiotherapy are important to maximize the effects of radiation in destroying cancer cells while minimizing adverse effects.

About four out of ten cancer cases were successfully cured using radiotherapy as part of treatment. But the results of radiotherapy depend on the type and stage of cancer and other treatments you receive.

Precise cancer treatment is very important for trusted medical experts. Also accompanied by applying a healthy lifestyle, positive thinking and trying to stay active during the healing process of cancer.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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