A healthy body has cells that work well. If cells work abnormally, this condition can be the cause of cancer. Well, one of the treatments that can be undergone by cancer patients is radiotherapy or also called radiation therapy. So, what does this treatment and its side effects look like? Let’s check out the review below.
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is a medical procedure used to treat cancer. The procedure is performed with the help of powerful X-ray energy to kill and stopping the proliferation and spread of cancer cells lodged in the body. In addition to X-ray exposure, radiotherapy can also be done in the form of implants, injectable or oral drugs.
To improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment, radiotherapy is often used in conjunction with other methods, such as chemotherapy methods or tumor removal surgery. Radiotherapy is applied very carefully and fully calculated to minimize side effects in patients.
Maybe you know radiation as one of the causes of cancer. However, the radiation used in this therapy is not large enough to trigger cancer. Human body cells can recover quickly from this radiation.
Although the focus of radiotherapy is to treat cancer, radiotherapy is also used to overcome non-cancerous diseases such as tumors, thyroid diseases, and various other blood disorders can also be treated with this treatment.
An advanced stage patients are also encouraged to do this therapy, not to aim to cure, but to reduce the symptoms of cancer and pain experienced by sufferers.
Radiation therapy types
External Radiotherapy (external beam radiation)
External radiotherapy is delivered through a machine where direct light is focused on the tumor. Linear accelerators (also known as LINAC cases) use electricity to form a fast-moving flow of subatomic particles to kill cancer cells.
Other modalities of external beam radiation include Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), Tomotherapy, Stereotactic Radiation Surgery (SRS) and Proton Therapy.
Radioisotope Therapy (systemic radiotherapy)
Systemic radiation therapy requires patients to receive injections or ingest radioactive substances or radioactive substances bound to monoclonal antibodies that can travel throughout the body.
Radioactive iodine is a systemic radiation commonly performed to treat certain thyroid cancers.
Monoclonal antibodies combined with radioactive substances help to plan, find and kill cancer cells.
Radioactive drugs such as samarium-153-lexidronam (Quadramet) and strontium-89 chloride (Metastron) are types of palliative radiation therapy.
Radiation Therapy Indication
The doctor will consider radiotherapy with the following purposes:
- Being the sole procedure to treat cancer.
- Treat cancer combined with other treatments.
- Reduce the size of the tumor before surgery.
- Alleviate symptoms in advanced cancer conditions.
- Kill and clean cancer cells so as not to return after surgery.
Radiation therapy for cancer
Cancer is one of those dangerous diseases that is scary. One treatment is radiotherapy or radiation therapy by utilizing rays as energy intensive to kill cancer cells.
Radiation therapy generally uses X-ray power, but it can also use the power of protons or other types of energy. Radiation therapy serves to damage cancer cells by destroying the genetic material of cells that control the growth and self-division of cancer cells.
Treating Different Types of Cancer
Most cancer patients will receive radiation therapy as part of treatment. Radiotherapy is used by doctors to help with the treatment of almost all types of cancer. Radiation therapy is also useful in treating some types of benign tumors. Here are some reasons why radiotherapy is performed:
- As the only type of treatment for cancer.
- Combination with other types of treatments such as chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.
- Stop the growth of cancer cells that still exists after surgery (adjuvant therapy).
- Reduce the size of a cancer before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy).
- In advanced cancer, to alleviate symptoms caused by cancer.
Radiation Therapy Side Effects
Radiation therapy or radiotherapy has side effects, which occur when non-cancerous cells experience radiation or are affected when getting treatment. Cancer cells are more susceptible to the effects of treatment, as it is easier to copy themselves than to improve themselves. In addition, non-cancerous cells are also affected by the therapy and can cause side effects, ranging from mild to severe.
Possible side effects are:
- Fatigue or lethargy.
- Skin irritation, including swelling, blistering, until it looks like sunburn.
- Hair loss, bladder problems, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Inflammation of tissues, such as pneumonitis, esophagitis, and hepatitis.
- Decreased white blood cells or platelets although rare.