What Are The Types Of Radiation Therapy
- External radiation therapy
- External radiation therapy is given from a special machine . The patient never becomes radioactive.
- Internal radiation therapy
- Internal radiation therapy is when the source of radiation is placed inside the body near the cancer cells. The length of time the implant is in place depends upon the type of implant received.
Getting Help And Support
You may find it helpful to talk to other people in the same situation if you are finding it hard to cope with the fact that you have had cancer. Or you could talk to a trained counsellor. This can help you to find ways of dealing with the fear and worry.
You can get in touch with a counsellor by contacting one of the counselling organisations.
You can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses if you would like to talk to someone outside your own friends and family. Talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
You can also look at our section about coping emotionally with cancer.
Or you can share your experiences with other people and find out how they coped by using our online forum, Cancer Chat.
Fast Facts About Radiation Therapy
- Radiation treatments are painless.
- External radiation treatment does not make you radioactive.
- Treatments are usually scheduled every day except Saturday and Sunday.
- You need to allow 30 minutes for each treatment session although the treatment itself takes only a few minutes.
- It’s important to get plenty of rest and to eat a well-balanced diet during the course of your radiation therapy.
- Skin in the treated area may become sensitive and easily irritated.
- Side effects of radiation treatment are usually temporary and they vary depending on the area of the body that is being treated.
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Who Are The Members Of The Radiation Therapy Team
A team of highly trained medical professionals will be involved in your care during radiation therapy. This team is led by a radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
Radiation oncologists are the doctors who will oversee your radiation therapy treatments. These physicians work with the other members of the radiation therapy team to develop and prescribe your treatment plan and make sure that each treatment is given accurately. Your radiation oncologist will also track your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary to make sure you receive the best care. Radiation oncologists help identify and treat any side effects that may occur due to radiation therapy. They work closely with other cancer doctors, including medical oncologists and surgeons, and all members of the radiation oncology team.
Radiation oncologists have completed at least four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of general medical training and four years of residency training in radiation oncology. They have extensive training in cancer medicine and the safe use of radiation to treat disease. If they pass a special examination, they are certified by the American Board of Radiology. You should ask if your doctor is board certified.
Radiation Oncology Nurses
Other Healthcare professionals
Proton Beam Radiation Therapy
Proton beam therapy focuses beams of protons instead of x-rays on the cancer. Unlike x-rays, which release energy both before and after they hit their target, protons cause little damage to tissues they pass through and release their energy only after traveling a certain distance. This means that proton beam radiation can, in theory, deliver more radiation to the prostate while doing less damage to nearby normal tissues. Proton beam radiation can be aimed with techniques similar to 3D-CRT and IMRT.
Although in theory proton beam therapy might be more effective than using x-rays, so far studies have not shown if this is true. Right now, proton beam therapy is not widely available. The machines needed to make protons are very expensive, and they arent available in many centers in the United States. Proton beam radiation might not be covered by all insurance companies at this time.
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Earn Arrt Credentials In Radiation Therapy
The purpose of ARRT certification and registration in Radiation Therapy is to recognize individuals who are qualified to perform the role of a radiation therapist. To earn ARRT certification and registration in this discipline, you’ll use our primary eligibility pathway. Whether you’re a student, looking for educational programs, or just beginning to explore career options, below are the resources you’ll need to get started.
REVIEW OUR REQUIREMENTS
Earning ARRT certification and registration is challenging, yet very achievable. It will take time and commitmentbut your hard work will pay off. Learn more about the requirements you’ll need to meet along the way, including those in education, ethics, and examination.
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Rapid Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Treatment times: Standard treatment is a course of 44 treatments given over nine weeks, says Dr. Yu. With hypofractionated radiotherapy, patients are given five treatments over two weeks.
New advances: Radiotherapy is a common treatment for advanced prostate cancers. However, radiation can damage the rectum, which is close to the prostate. Protecting the rectum is important if damaged, a man may experience incontinence.
New technologies have opened the door to safe, rapid treatment of prostate cancers, says Dr. Yu. One of them, SpaceOAR, is essentially a gel spacer that helps keep the rectum away from the prostate during radiation treatment. It gives us one more level of safetywe are able to place fluid between the prostate and rectum, effectively protecting the rectum from very high doses of radiation, says Dr. Yu.
Doctors at Yale Medicine also use advanced technology to track the natural movement of the prostate during radiation treatment. Its a 4D tracking system that uses micro-sized transponders, which are implanted into the prostate by a urologist during a quick outpatient procedure. If the prostate moves during treatment, the transponders set off an alarm that alerts the radiation oncology team. Treatment is automatically stopped until the technicians make necessary adjustments in order to protect the areas surrounding the prostate, especially the rectum and bladder.
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About Radiation Therapy To The Brain
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer. It works by damaging the cancer cells and making it hard for them to reproduce. Your body then is naturally able to get rid of these damaged cancer cells. Radiation therapy also affects normal cells. However, your normal cells are able to repair themselves in a way that cancer cells cant.
Radiation can be given to treat primary tumors in your brain or tumors that have spread to your brain from another part of your body . Your doctor will decide whether youll receive partial or whole brain radiation. Youll have either external beam radiation therapy or stereotactic radiosurgery depending on your treatment plan.
During external beam radiation, a treatment machine will aim beams of radiation directly to the tumor. The beam passes through your body and destroys cancer cells in its path. You wont see or feel the radiation.
Stereotactic radiosurgery can be used in some tumors and is even more precise. It targets a small area in your brain with high doses of radiation and delivers lower doses of radiation to the normal tissue around it. Youre able to receive higher doses to the tumor at each treatment session, which shortens the overall course of treatment.
Radiation therapy takes time to work. It takes days or weeks of treatment before cancer cells start to die, and they keep dying for weeks or months after radiation therapy.
How Long Does Brachytherapy Take
How long brachytherapy takes and whether it is done on an outpatient or inpatient basis depends upon the type of internal radiation therapy used and the nature of the cancer. Internal radiation therapy can be completed as quickly as three to five outpatient treatments of a few minutes each over several days. Some types of internal radiation therapy are left in place for up to a week and require a hospital stay during this period.
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Brain Radiation Side Effects
Generally, side effects from radiation treatment are grouped into two categories:
- Short-term side effects, which occur within six weeks of treatment
- Delayed side effects, which are rarer than short-term effects and can start months or even years later
Short-term side effects of brain tumor radiation include:
The risk for these side effects depends on your age, the radiation dose used and the size of the area treated, and the location. Some tumors can be treated with focal radiation, which targets a smaller area than whole brain radiation. Larger treatment areas are generally associated with greater risk of long-term effects.
Who Gives Radiation Therapy Treatments
During your radiation therapy, a team of highly trained medical professionals will care for you. Your team may include these people:
- Radiation oncologist: This doctor is specially trained to treat cancer with radiation. This person oversees your radiation treatment plan.
- Radiation physicist: This is the person who makes sure the radiation equipment is working as it should and that it gives you the exact dose prescribed by your radiation oncologist.
- Dosimetrist: This person helps the radiation oncologist plan the treatment.
- Radiation therapist or radiation therapy technologist: This person operates the radiation equipment and positions you for each treatment.
- Radiation therapy nurse: This nurse has special training in cancer treatment and can give you information about radiation treatment and managing side effects.
You may also need the services of a dietitian, physical therapist, social worker, dentist or dental oncologist, pharmacist, or other health care providers.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body that is exposed to the radiation as well as the dose given. There are two side effects that are common among most patients: fatigue and skin irritation. The fatigue usually begins after several weeks of treatment and may not resolve for 2 to 3 months after treatment.
Skin irritation occurs on the area of the body being treated, whether the radiation is given superficially or deeply into the body, and depends on the dose of radiation given. The skin becomes red, dry, and itchy. Occasionally the skin becomes blistered. The radiation oncologist provides the patient with instructions for cleaning the skin and treating the skin irritation when this occurs.
A number of other side effects are possible and depend on where the radiation is given. Hair loss may occur in the field of radiation. If radiation is not being given to the head, however, hair loss from the scalp does not occur. If the treatment is to the mouth, throat, or neck, side effects may include a sore mouth, dry mouth, and difficulty swallowing. Treatment to the lung may cause irritation of the lung and esophagus, causing coughing and increased sputum production as well as some difficulty swallowing. Treatment to the abdomen may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Treatment to the pelvis may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as rectal, bladder, and vaginal irritation.
Scheduled Visits During Treatment
Your radiation oncologist and radiation nurse will see you for a scheduled visit during your treatment course to talk with you about any concerns, ask about any potential side effects you may be having, and answer your questions. This visit will be before or after your treatment on __________________. You should plan on being at your appointment about 1 extra hour on this day.
If you need to speak with your radiation oncologist or radiation nurse any time between your visits, call your radiation oncologists office or ask the support staff or your radiation therapists to contact them when you come in for treatment.
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Where Will I Have Treatment
Radiation therapy is usually given in the radiation oncology department of a hospital or in a treatment centre. This may be in the public or private health system.
Most people have radiation therapy as an outpatient. This means you do not stay in hospital, but travel to the hospital or treatment centre for each session. Its a good idea to think about how you will get to the radiation therapy sessions.
For some types of internal radiation therapy, you may need to stay in hospital overnight or for a few days.
After Cancer Drug Treatment Or Radiotherapy
Cancer may sometimes come back after cancer drug treatment or radiotherapy. This can happen because the treatment didn’t destroy all the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells by attacking cells that are in the process of doubling to form 2 new cells. But not all the cells in a cancer divide at the same time. Normal cells go into a long rest period between divisions. Cancer cells do too, although the rest period may be much shorter.
Giving chemotherapy in a series of treatments helps to catch as many cells dividing as possible. Cells that were resting when you had your first treatment, may be dividing when you have your next and so will be more likely to die.
But it is unlikely that any chemotherapy treatment kills every single cancer cell in the body. Doctors try to reduce the number of cancer cells as much as possible. The immune system kills off the remaining cells or they may die off.
You might find it helpful to read more about how chemotherapy works.
Radiotherapy makes small breaks in the DNA inside the cells. These breaks stop cancer cells from growing and dividing and often make them die. Normal cells close to the cancer can also become damaged by radiation, but most recover and go back to working normally. If radiotherapy doesn’t kill all of the cancer cells, they will regrow at some point in the future.
We have more information about radiotherapy treatment.
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Swelling In Your Brain
Radiation therapy to the brain may cause brain swelling. If you had neurological symptoms before you began radiation therapy, they could return, or you could have new symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- A worsening of your original symptoms
- A headache that doesnt go away after taking acetaminophen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in vision, such as double vision
- Unsteadiness when walking
- Change in mental status
If you have any new or worsening symptoms, call your doctor or nurse right away. Theyll want to evaluate you. Medication can be prescribed if needed. These may include:
What Are The Other Treatment Options For Cancer
A cancer specialist may look at cancers stage, location and size before deciding its treatment means. Here, an oncologist can go through extensive diagnostic tests for understanding cancer conditions. Moreover, patients can have their say in choosing the treatment means.
So, ones treatment options for cancer may include the following:
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Are There Side Effects Of The Combination Approach To Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy
When it comes to early stages of disease, patients very frequently do well with either brachytherapy or external beam radiation. Success rates of around 90% or higher can be achieved with either approach. When the disease is somewhat more advanced based on the PSA level, Gleason score, extent of visible disease on magnetic resonance imaging we have learned over the years that higher doses of radiation are critical to achieving better results. Some evidence, including a large trial, suggests that for patients with intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer, a combined approach using brachytherapy along with external beam radiation may be best compared to standard dose external beam radiation therapy alone.
How Are Side Effects On The Blood Managed
In some cases, radiation therapy can cause low levels of white blood cells and platelets. These blood cells normally help your body fight infection and prevent bleeding. If large areas of active bone marrow are treated, your red blood cell count may be low as well. If your blood tests show these side effects, your doctor may wait until your blood counts increase to continue treatments. Your doctor may check your blood counts regularly and change your treatment schedule if it is necessary.
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Is Radiation Therapy Safe
Some patients are concerned about the safety of radiation therapy. Radiation has been used successfully to treat patients for more than 100 years. In that time, many advances have been made to ensure that radiation therapy is safe and effective.
Before you begin receiving radiation therapy, your radiation oncology team will carefully tailor your plan to make sure that you receive safe and accurate treatment. Treatment will be carefully planned to focus on the cancer while avoiding healthy organs in the area. Throughout your treatment, members of your team check and re-check your plan. Special computers are also used to monitor and double-check the treatment machines to make sure that the proper treatment is given. If you undergo external beam radiation therapy, you will not be radioactive after treatment ends because the radiation does not stay in your body. However, if you undergo brachytherapy, tiny radioactive sources will be implanted inside your body, in the tumor or in the tissue surrounding the tumor, either temporarily or permanently. Your radiation oncologist will explain any special precautions that you or your family and friends may need to take.