What Is External Beam Radiation Therapy
During external beam radiation therapy, a beam of radiation is directed through the skin to the cancer and the immediate surrounding area in order to destroy the main tumor and any nearby cancer cells. To minimize side effects, the treatments are typically given five days a week, Monday through Friday, for a number of weeks. This allows doctors to get enough radiation into the body to kill the cancer while giving healthy cells time each day to recover.
The radiation beam is usually generated by a machine called a linear accelerator. The linear accelerator, or linac, is capable of producing high-energy X-rays and electrons for the treatment of your cancer. Using high-tech treatment planning software, your treatment team controls the size and shape of the beam, as well as how it is directed at your body, to effectively treat your tumor while sparing the surrounding normal tissue. Several special types of external beam therapy are discussed in the next sections. These are used for specific types of cancer, and your radiation oncologist will recommend one of these treatments if he or she believes it will help you.
Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy
Top Hospitals And Clinics In India For Radiation Therapy:
Most of the hospitals for Radiation Therapy in India are NABL, NABH, ISO, CAP-accredited and recognized by DSIR. These facilities have world-class infrastructure which provides a pleasant ambiance to their patients. All of the highly-rated hospitals for Radiation Therapy in India provide the best cancer care and show the utmost patient care. Both the doctors and nursing staff at these hospitals are well experienced and skilled who can take very good care of the patient. Together, all these hospitals provide international service efficacy in India.
These are the best Hospitals for Radiation Therapy in India:
To Stop Cancer From Coming Back Somewhere Else
Cancer can spread from where it started to other body parts. Doctors often assume that a few cancer cells might already have spread even when they cant be seen on imaging scans like CT scans or MRIs. In some cases, the area where the cancer most often spreads to may be treated with radiation to kill any cancer cells before they grow into tumors. For instance, people with certain kinds of lung cancer may get radiation to the head, even when there is no cancer known to be there, because their type of lung cancer often spreads to the brain. This is done to help prevent cancer from spreading to the head even before it can. Sometimes, radiation to prevent future cancer can be given at the same time that radiation is given to treat existing cancer, especially if the area the cancer might spread to is close to the tumor itself.
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Urinary And Bladder Changes
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause urinary and bladder problems by irritating the healthy cells of the bladder wall and urinary tract. These changes may start 35 weeks after radiation therapy begins. Most problems go away 28 weeks after treatment is over. You may experience:
- Burning or pain when you begin to urinate or after you urinate
- Trouble starting to urinate
- Bladder spasms, which are like painful muscle cramps
Ways to manage include:
- Drink lots of fluids. Aim for 68 cups of fluids each day, or enough that your urine is clear to light yellow in color.
- Avoid coffee, black tea, alcohol, spices and all tobacco products.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you think you have urinary or bladder problems. You may need to provide a urine sample to check for infection.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have incontinence. He/she may refer you to a physical therapist to assess your problem. The therapist may recommend exercises to help you improve your bladder control.
- Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you urinate, reduce burning or pain, and ease bladder spasms.
What To Expect With Radiation Treatments
If you and your doctor have decided that radiation therapy is right for your type of cancer, youll begin with a radiation simulation. During the simulation, youll lie on a table and a CT scan or X-ray will be done to see where your cancer is and where the energy beams should focus.
After the images are taken, your treatment team will mark the area where radiation is needed. This will help the team direct the radiation precisely to the right place.
During radiation therapy, youll likely have treatments 5 days per week for up to 10 weeks. How much radiation you receive and for how long will depend on the extent and type of your cancer.
Depending on the kind of treatment you get, you may experience
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How Long Does External Radiation Treatment Take
In most cases the total dose of radiation needed to kill a tumor cant be given all at once. This is because a large dose given one time can cause more damage to nearby normal tissues. This can cause more side effects than giving the same dose over spread out over days or weeks into many treatments.
The total dose of external radiation therapy is usually divided into smaller doses called fractions. Most patients get radiation treatments daily, 5 days a week for 5 to 8 weeks. Weekend rest breaks allow time for normal cells to recover. The total dose of radiation and the number of treatments is based on:
- The size and location of the cancer
- The type of cancer
- The reason for the treatment
- Your general health
- Any other treatments youre getting
Other radiation schedules might be used in certain cases. For instance, radiation therapy might last only a few weeks when its used to relieve symptoms, because the overall dose of radiation needed is lower. In some cases, radiation might be given as 2 or more treatments each day. Or you might have several weeks off in the middle of treatments so your body can recover while the cancer shrinks. Your doctor will talk to you about the best plan in your case.
Are There Any New Developments In Treating My Disease
- Less invasive surgical methods are under study. They require a much smaller incision and allow the patient to be up within hours after surgery ends.
- Angiogenesis inhibitors are agents that prevent new blood vessels from forming in growing cancers and may shut off the tumors blood supply. This remains an experimental approach but it is promising in part because it seems to cause very few side effects.
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Following Up After Radiation Therapy
During the weeks of treatment, your care team will closely monitor your treatment schedule and dosing, and your general health.
Youll undergo several imaging scans and tests during radiation so your doctors can observe how well youre responding to treatment. These scans and tests can also tell them if any changes need to be made to your treatment.
If you experience side effects from radiation even if theyre expected tell your healthcare provider at your next appointment. Sometimes, even small changes can make a big difference in limiting side effects. At the very least, you may receive advice or medication to help ease the discomfort.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-frequency waves to destroy cancer cells.
It can be given:
What Happens Before During And After Treatment
Once the diagnosis has been made, you will probably talk with your primary care physician along with several cancer specialists, such as a surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist, to discuss your treatment choices. These specialists will work together to help recommend the best treatment for you. In some cases, your cancer will need to be treated by using more than one type of treatment. For example, if you have breast cancer, you might have surgery to remove the tumor , then have radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells in or near your breast . You also might receive chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells that have traveled to other parts of the body.
Your radiation oncologist may request that special blocks or shields be made for you. These blocks or shields are put in the external beam therapy machine before each of your treatments and are used to shape the radiation to your tumor and keep the rays from hitting normal tissue. Multileaf collimators may also be used to shape the beam and achieve safe delivery of your radiation treatment.
The radiation therapy team carefully aims the radiation in order to reduce the dose to the normal tissue surrounding the tumor. Still, radiation will affect some healthy cells. Time between daily treatments allows your healthy cells to repair much of the radiation effect, while cancer cells are not as likely to survive the changes.
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Are Some Therapies More Effective Based On Stage
The type of radiation treatment you get depends on the stage of breast cancer. People with early to stage 3 breast cancer will benefit most from radiation treatment. Radiation can also help ease side effects in people with advanced breast cancer.
External whole breast radiation works best:
- for early stage to stage 3 breast cancer
- for tumors that are an inch or smaller
- if the cancer is in one spot
- if you had breast-saving surgery or a mastectomy
External beam radiation can also help treat side effects of advanced breast cancer.
Internal radiation works best:
- for early stage breast cancer
- if the cancer is in one spot
- if you had breast-saving surgery or a mastectomy
Sometimes, a person with advanced breast cancer will have internal radiation.
Intraoperative radiation works best:
- during early stage breast cancer
- when the tumor is too close to healthy tissue for external radiation to be possible
Not everyone can have intraoperative radiation or internal beam radiation. Whether you can have these procedures depends on:
- size and location of the tumor
- size of your breast
Special Diet Needs While On Radiation Therapy
Radiation can cause side effects that make it hard to eat, such as nausea, mouth sores, and throat problems called esophagitis. Since your body uses a lot of energy to heal during radiation therapy, it is important that you eat enough calories and protein to maintain your weight during treatment.
If you are having trouble eating and maintaining your weight, talk to your doctor or nurse. You might also find it helpful to speak with a dietitian. For more information about coping with eating problems see the booklet Eating Hints or read more about side effects.
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Large Cost Variations For Radiation Therapy
A study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice shows the large reimbursement variations in Medicare for radiation therapy in cancer care. The study analyzed 55,288 patients with breast, lung and prostate cancer who were treated with radiotherapy.
The findings show the significant cost differences for radiation are largely unrelated to patient or disease factors and based more on geography and rates of individual providers.
Cancer-Specific Radiation Therapy Costs
Journal of Oncology Practice, 2015
Side Effects Of Treatment
You may have side effects from radiation therapy. The type and how severe they are depends on many things. These include the dose of radiation, the number of treatments, and your overall health. The side effects may be worse if youre also getting chemotherapy.
You may start to notice side effects about 2 weeks after you start treatment. They may get worse during treatment, but they will slowly get better over 6 to 8 weeks after you finish treatment. Some side effects may take longer to go away. Follow the guidelines in this section to help manage your side effects during and after treatment.
Below are the most common side effects of radiation therapy to the head and neck. You may have all, some, or none of these. Your nurse will talk with you about the side effects youre most likely to have.
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Radiotherapy After Breast Conserving Surgery
You usually have radiotherapy to the whole breast after having breast conserving surgery . You generally start it about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
If you need to have chemotherapy you have this before your radiotherapy.
People with a very low risk of the cancer coming back may only have part of the breast treated with radiotherapy. Or they may not have radiotherapy at all.
Before Each Treatment Session
The radiographers help you to get onto the treatment couch. You lie on a special board called a breast board. If you have had a shell made the radiographers will fix this in place. You might need to raise your arms over your head.
The radiographers line up the radiotherapy machine using the marks on your body or on the shell. Once you are in the right position, they leave the room.
It is important to continue the arm exercise you were shown after your surgery. This helps to stop your arm and shoulder from becoming stiff during your radiotherapy treatment.
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How Radiation Is Used With Other Cancer Treatments
For some people, radiation may be the only treatment you need. But, most often, you will have radiation therapy with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Radiation therapy may be given before, during, or after these other treatments to improve the chances that treatment will work. The timing of when radiation therapy is given depends on the type of cancer being treated and whether the goal of radiation therapy is to treat the cancer or ease symptoms.
When radiation is combined with surgery, it can be given:
- Before surgery, to shrink the size of the cancer so it can be removed by surgery and be less likely to return.
- During surgery, so that it goes straight to the cancer without passing through the skin. Radiation therapy used this way is called intraoperative radiation. With this technique, doctors can more easily protect nearby normal tissues from radiation.
- After surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.
What Happens During Radiation Therapy
Internal radiation therapy usually happens in a special outpatient treatment room or in a hospital. Your radiation oncologist may insert the radiation implant using a small flexible tube called a catheter. For this treatment, youll receive anesthesia so you dont feel pain or discomfort during the procedure. With the systemic form of internal radiation therapy, youll receive radioactive fluid through an IV.
With EBRT, you lie on a table, positioned as during simulation. The radiation machine moves around you but never touches you. A healthcare provider called a radiation therapist operates the machine from a separate room. You can speak to each other at any time using an intercom. The machine directs precise doses of radiation toward the tumor as it shifts positions. You wont feel anything during treatment.
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How Does Radiation Therapy Work
Radiation therapy uses special high-energy X-rays or particles to damage a cancer cells DNA. When a cancer cells DNA is damaged, it cant divide successfully and it dies.
Radiation therapy damages both healthy cells and cancer cells in the treatment area. Still, radiation affects cancer cells more than normal cells. Cancer cells grow and divide faster than healthy cells and also are less organized. Because of this, it’s harder for cancer cells to repair the damage done by radiation. So cancer cells are more easily destroyed by radiation, while healthy cells are better able to repair themselves and survive the treatment.
The treatment area may include the breast area, the lymph nodes, or another part of the body if the cancer has spread.
Radiation treatments are carefully planned to make sure you receive the greatest benefits and the fewest side effects possible.
There are two main types of radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer:
External beam radiation is given by a large machine called a linear accelerator. The machine aims a beam of radiation at the treatment area.
Internal radiation, called brachytherapy by doctors, uses a radioactive substance sealed in seeds or tiny tubes that are placed inside your body directly into the cancer or the place where the cancer was.
Your doctor will look at your pathology report and calculate your risk of breast cancer recurrence based on a number of factors, including:
How Can I Handle Fatigue
The fatigue you feel from cancer and radiation therapy is different from other times you may have felt tired. Itâs an exhaustion that doesnât get better with rest and can keep you from doing the things you normally do, like going to work or spending time with family and friends. It also can seem different from day to day, which makes it hard to plan around it. It can even change how well you’re able to follow your cancer treatment plan.
Let your doctor know if youâre struggling with fatigue. They might be able to help. There are also things you can do to feel better:
- Take care of your health. Be sure you’re taking your medications the way you’re supposed to. Get plenty of rest, be as active as you can, and eat the right foods.
- Work with a counselor or take a class at your cancer treatment center to learn ways to conserve energy, reduce stress, and keep yourself from focusing on the fatigue.
- Save your energy for the activities that are most important to you. Tackle them first when youâre feeling up to it.
- Keep a balance between rest and activities. Too much bed rest can make you more tired. But don’t over-schedule your days without giving yourself breaks.
- Ask for help from family and friends. If fatigue is interfering with your job, talk with your boss or HR department and ask about taking some time off from work or making adjustments in your schedule.
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