Saturday, February 24, 2024

Chemo And Radiation At The Same Time

Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Chemo and Radiation Treatment Does NOT Work 97% of The Time

If youre going to get radiation therapy, its important to ask your doctor about the possible short- and long-term side effects so that you know what to expect. Possible side effects of radiation therapy for colon and rectal cancer can include:

  • Skin irritation at the site where radiation beams were aimed, which can range from redness to blistering and peeling
  • Problems with wound healing if radiation was given before surgery
  • Rectal irritation, which can cause diarrhea, painful bowel movements, or blood in the stool
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bladder irritation, which can cause problems like feeling like you have to go often , burning or pain while urinating, or blood in the urine
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Sexual problems
  • Scarring, fibrosis , and adhesions that cause the tissues in the treated area to stick to each other

Most side effects should get better over time after treatment ends, but some problems may not go away completely. If you notice any side effects, talk to your doctor right away so steps can be taken to reduce or relieve them.

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How Is Chemotherapy Given

How chemotherapy is given will depend on the type of cancer being treated and the drugs being used. Treatment may be given:

  • through a needle inserted into a vein, slowly injecting the medication through a catheter , placed in a large vein, usually in the neck or chest which remains there throughout the course of the treatment

What Are The Common Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is called a local treatment. This means that it only affects the specific area of the body that is targeted. For example, radiation therapy to the scalp may cause hair loss. But people who have radiation therapy to other parts of their body do not usually lose the hair on their head.

Common physical side effects of radiation therapy include:

Skin changes. Some people who receive radiation therapy experience dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling on the skin in the area being treated. Skin changes from radiation therapy usually go away a few weeks after treatment ends. If skin damage becomes a serious problem, your doctor may change your treatment plan. Lotion may help with skin changes, but be sure to check with your health care team about which cream they recommend and when to apply it. It is also best to protect affected skin from the sun. Learn more about skin-related treatment side effects.

Fatigue. Fatigue is a term used to describe feeling physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion even if you are getting enough rest and sleep. Many patients experience fatigue. Your level of fatigue may increase if you are receiving more than 1 type of treatment, such as radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy. Learn how to cope with fatigue.

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Can Chemo And Radiation Be Used Together To Treat Cancer

Some cancers can be treated with just radiation. These are most often cancers caught earlybefore they’ve grown large or started to spread.

Most of the time, cancer treatment plans will contain multiple treatments. These treatments can include radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery, targeted therapies, or immune therapies. When your doctor combines multiple treatments at once, its called a combination treatment plan.

Combination treatments are used for many reasons. Treatments may be more effective when theyre combined. For example, chemotherapy may make radiation treatments more effective.

If your doctor suggests undergoing one type of treatment before others, its called neoadjuvant treatment. Neoadjuvant treatments are typically used to shrink a tumor or destroy metastases before the primary tumor is surgically removed.

Treatments that come after others are called adjuvant treatments and are typically used to reduce the risk that cancers will return or spread after initial treatment or surgery on the primary tumor.

Chemotherapy And Radiation Together Extend Lung Cancer Patients Lives

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy
Thomas Jefferson University
Chemotherapy given at the same time as radiation therapy can help patients with a certain type of lung cancer live nearly 50 percent longer than they might have otherwise if the same treatment was given differently, according to a new article.

Chemotherapy given at the same time as radiation therapy can help patients with a certain type of lung cancer live nearly 50 percent longer than they might have otherwise if the same treatment was given differently, according to an international teams analysis of several trial results.

Walter Curran Jr., M.D., professor and chair of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Jeffersons Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, led one of six trials comparing the effectiveness of giving chemotherapy at the same time as radiation therapy versus giving radiation first, followed later by chemotherapy, to treat locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer .

According to Dr. Curran, there had been some controversy over whether simultaneous administration of chemotherapy and radiation for such cases was better than sequential delivery. In the United States, chemotherapy and radiation together have become the standard, whereas in other areas, such as Europe, for example, this has not been the case.

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Types Of Cancer Treatment

There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that you receive will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is.

Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. When you need treatment for cancer, you have a lot to learn and think about. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and confused. But, talking with your doctor and learning about the types of treatment you may have can help you feel more in control. Our list of Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Treatment may help.

What Kind Of Treatment Follow

There are several reasons for follow-up examinations:

  • To detect recurrent cancer and possibly try further treatment, such as an operation, if the radiation therapy is unsuccessful
  • To treat the acute side effects of the radiation therapy
  • To detect and treat late side effects or complications from the radiation therapy, should they occur
  • To detect and treat additional, unrelated head and neck cancers that may arise

If the initial treatment for the cancer is successful and you are cured, there is still a relatively low risk of developing a new, completely unrelated head and neck cancer. Per the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines, follow-up examinations usually take place:

  • Every one to three months for the first year
  • Every two months to six months for the second year
  • Every four to eight months for the years three through five
  • Annually thereafter

Thyroid functions are often checked annually to detect any occurrence of hypothyroidism , which is easily treatable.

Continued imaging follow-up is typically performed both to assess the response to treatment and to monitor for disease recurrence. CT scans are most commonly performed for this purpose, however, MRI and fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography may also be performed in certain situations.

Dental exams for oral cavity and sites exposed to significant intraoral radiation treatment.

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Head And Neck Cancer Overview

The way a particular head and neck cancer behaves depends on the site in which it arises . For example, cancers that begin in the vocal cords behave very differently than those that arise in the back of the tongue, which is only an inch or less from the vocal cords.

The most common type of cancer in the head and neck is squamous cell carcinoma, which arises from the cells that line the inside of the nose, mouth and throat. Squamous cell cancer is often associated with a history of smoking or exposure to the human papilloma virus . Other less common types of head and neck cancers include salivary gland tumors, lymphomas, and sarcomas. Methods of prevention include avoiding exposure to alcohol and tobacco products as well as vaccinating children and young adults against HPV.

Cancers spread in four main ways. The first is direct extension from the primary site to adjacent areas. The second is spread through the lymphatic channels to lymph nodes. The third is spread along nerves to other areas of the head and neck. The fourth is spread through the blood vessels to distant sites in the body. In head and neck cancer, spread to the lymph nodes in the neck is relatively common.

The diagnosis of cancer of the head and neck is often made by a dentist, oral surgeon or physician after a patient notices symptoms such as a lump in the neck or a sore in the mouth that does not heal. Even without symptoms, the diagnosis may be made during a routine examination.

How Is Radiation Therapy Given

Chemo and Radiation | Cancer Treatment Week 1

Radiation therapy can be given in 3 ways:

  • External radiation : uses a machine that directs high-energy rays from outside the body into the tumor. Its done during outpatient visits to a hospital or treatment center. Its usually given over many weeks and sometimes will be given twice a day for several weeks. A person receiving external radiation is not radioactive and does not have to follow special safety precautions at home.
  • Internal radiation: Internal radiation is also called brachytherapy. A radioactive source is put inside the body into or near the tumor. With some types of brachytherapy, radiation might be placed and left in the body to work. Sometimes it is placed in the body for a period of time and then removed. This is decided based on the type of cancer. Special safety precautions are needed for this type of radiation for a period of time. But its important to know if the internal radiation is left in the body, after a while it eventually is no longer radioactive.
  • Systemic radiation: Radioactive drugs given by mouth or put into a vein are used to treat certain types of cancer. These drugs then travel throughout the body. You might have to follow special precautions at home for a period of time after these drugs are given.

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Are There Any New Developments In Treating My Disease

Some new treatments are available, as are new ways of combining old treatments. A good example of the latter is the use in recent years of a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy or immunotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer. For updated information on new cancer treatments that are available, you should discuss these issues with your doctor and consider obtaining a second opinion before beginning treatment.

Practical Hints For Constipation

  • To help prevent constipation, drink eight to 10 glasses of fluid a day.
  • Take a stool softener such as ducosate sodium, also known as Colace, one tablet once or twice a day. Senekot or Senekot-S also may be suggested. Ask your doctor or nurse for a recommendation.
  • Stay as active as you can. Consistent regular exercise can reduce constipation.
  • If you can tolerate them, try high-fiber foods such as prunes, bran, fruits and vegetables.

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When You Might Have Chemotherapy

Whether you have chemotherapy as part of your treatment depends on what type of cancer you have, how big it is and whether it has spread or not.

Doctors use chemotherapy because it circulates throughout the body in the bloodstream. So it can treat cancer almost anywhere in the body. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment.

Surgery only removes the cancer from the area it is in the body. And radiotherapy only treats the area of the body it is aimed at.

You might have chemotherapy:

  • to shrink a cancer before surgery or radiotherapy
  • to try to stop cancer coming back after surgery or radiotherapy
  • as a treatment on its own, if your type of cancer is very sensitive to it
  • to treat cancer that has spread from where it first started

Managing The Side Effects Of Cancer Treatment

Chemo and radiation are the top #1 cancer causing treatmentsâ¦

Many of the side effects of cancer treatment can be effectively managed or lessened. Palliative care is an important part of any cancer treatment plan.

Suffering through debilitating or distressing side effects of your treatments doesnt make your battle against cancer more heroic. Nor does it mean that your chemotherapy will work better.

Tell your doctor about the side effects youre experiencing and get holistic help from your care team to ensure your treatment goes as smoothly as possible. Your doctor may be able to tweak your cycle schedule or dosage of radiation or chemotherapy to help improve your side effects.

If youre worried about taking time off work, make sure to talk to your employer. Many employers are legally required to give time off work or adjust your workload or schedule while youre undergoing cancer treatment. A social worker on your care team can help you navigate this sometimes tricky situation.

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Benefits And Risks Of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is an essential treatment option for many cancers. The drugs used in chemotherapy are often given so that they can reach and kill cancer cells system-wide, outside of the primary tumor your doctor may have discovered.

When cancer spreads, it can be challenging to treat. So chemotherapy is an important treatment option to help kill cancer cells that may have escaped the primary tumor and spread to other parts of the body but are too small to see these are called micrometastases.

Chemotherapy can also help treat any tumor pieces or cells left over after other treatment approaches, like surgery or radiation therapy.

But because the drugs used in chemotherapy can be nonspecific to cancers and impact other healthy tissues of the body, they cause some side effects. These side effects are typically limited to when youre actively being treated with chemotherapy and will rapidly improve after treatment is discontinued.

Youll also likely feel exhausted by the treatments and need to take time off work the day of and the day after your treatments.

Chemotherapy is often given in cycles. For example, you may receive one week of treatment and then have a few weeks off to allow your body to heal before the next treatment.

Before Surgery Or Radiotherapy

The aim of chemotherapy before surgery is to shrink a tumour so that you need less surgery, or to make it easier to get all the cancer out. Shrinking the cancer with chemotherapy might also mean that you can have radiotherapy to a smaller area of your body.

Having chemotherapy before other treatments in this way is called neoadjuvant treatment. Sometimes doctors may call it primary treatment.

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Practical Hints For Hair Loss

  • It is not always necessary to buy a real wig. Synthetic wigs can look as good and are less expensive, easier to care for, lighter in weight and may be more comfortable to wear.
  • Before possible hair loss, some people like to cut their hair short. The hair loss won’t be quite so shocking if there is less hair to lose.
  • Put a towel over your pillow so that clean up in the morning will be easier while you are shedding your hair.
  • Buy a drain catch for your shower. Other people choose to shave their head hair when hair loss begins.
  • Refer to our wig information sheet for places to shop near you.
  • Refer to the Friend to Friend Gift Shop or the Cancer Resource Center for more information.
  • When buying a wig, take a friend for emotional support and maybe even a laugh!

What Are Side Effects

Things to remember after chemoradiation for your brain tumour is over

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the two most common types of cancer treatment. They work by destroying these fast-growing cells. But other types of fast-growing healthy cells also can be damaged along with cancer cells, causing adverse reactions, or side effects.

Side effects can range from tiredness and nausea to hair loss and blood clotting problems. Because each person responds a little differently to treatment and it’s hard for doctors to predict exactly how the body will react, they’ll closely watch a child who is being treated for cancer. Doctors weigh the amount and severity of side effects against the benefits of treatments.

Fortunately, most side effects are temporary. As the body’s normal cells recover, these problems start to go away. There are also good supportive treatments that can lessen the side effects.

Side effects vary:

  • Some can be merely unpleasant, while others can be much more serious.
  • Some show up right away, while others develop over time.
  • Some kids have just a few, while others have many over the course of treatment.

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When Do Radiation And Chemotherapy Side Effects Start

You may experience side effects within a few hours of treatment as is the case with certain chemotherapy treatments that gradually begin to improve. Or you may not experience side effects until youve completed several treatment sessions, as is sometimes the case with radiation. Talk to your healthcare provider about when youre most likely to experience side effects based on your treatment type and schedule.

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How Long Do Radiation And Chemotherapy Side Effects Last

Most side effects go away within a few months after you finish treatment. Still, some side effects dont start until months or years after treatment. In some cases, side effects can be permanent. Ask your oncologist about what to expect. Ask them to connect you to palliative care resources to help manage cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Every persons cancer treatment experience is unique. Some common side effects might not affect you, or you may have a side effect not listed here. Your healthcare provider can inform you of signs and symptoms you should look for. Still, only you know how you feel. Let your oncologist and palliative care team know what youre experiencing. They can recommend ways to manage side effects. Your oncologist can adjust your treatments if necessary.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/03/2022.


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