Chemotherapy Versus Radiationwhats The Difference
A pets cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and explanations about cancer types, prognosis, and treatment options may be difficult to comprehend when you are blindsided by your beloved companions illness. If your family veterinarian has diagnosed cancer in your pet, the Veterinary Referral Centers oncology department will consult with them to design a treatment plan that best addresses your pets cancer, and ensure you understand every step of the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Your pets treatment likely will include chemotherapy and/or radiation, two common cancer treatments that our oncologists use, independently or combined with other modalities, such as surgery, to target cancer cells.
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the administration of medication that can kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. The medications are often the same as those used for human cancer patients, and your pets exact medications will depend on their cancer type. Your pet may receive one chemotherapy medication at a time, or a combination of medications to target the cancer.
How is chemotherapy administered to pets?
Chemotherapy medications may be administered by various routes however,
What cancer types are treated with chemotherapy?
What are chemotherapys side effects in a pet?
What is radiation therapy?
How is radiation therapy administered to pets?
What side effects are expected after a pet has radiation therapy?
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Questions To Ask About Radiation Therapy
Before treatment, youll be asked to sign a consent form saying that your doctor has explained how radiation therapy may help, the possible risks, the type of radiation to be used, and your other treatment options. Before signing the consent form, be sure that you have had a chance to get all your questions answered. Here are some of the things you may want to ask about:
What Is The Difference Between Radiation Therapy And Chemotherapy
Medical science has made great strides in the treatment of cancer in the last few years and while it still remains the most serious illness, survival rates are going up and it is no longer the cause for fear and despair that it was previously. The two most common forms of treatment are Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy. While the two treatments are different, the terms are often used interchangeably so it is important for those suffering from this disease and their families and loved ones to know the difference.
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How Does Radiation Therapy Treat Cancer
Cancer begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control. All cells in the body go through a cycle to grow, divide, and multiply. Cancer cells go through this process faster than normal cells. Radiation therapy damages cell DNA so the cells stop growing or are destroyed.
Unlike other cancer treatments affect the whole body, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy is usually a local treatment. This means it generally affects only the part of the body where the cancer is located. Some healthy tissue near the cancer cells may be damaged during the treatment, but it usually heals after treatment ends.
There are many different types of radiation therapy, and they all work a little bit differently to destroy cancer cells.
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Radiation Therapy For Esophageal Cancer
Radiation therapy for cancer treatment, also called radiotherapy, aims to shrink cancerous tumors or lymph nodes. This treatment approach uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells.
A radiation oncologist has special expertise in planning customized treatment to effectively shrink the tumor, while sparing healthy tissue near the tumor. Since esophageal cancer tumors are often located near the heart, lungs and main arteries, it is especially important to work with a radiation oncologist who specializes in thoracic cancer.
Studies have shown that patients experience better results when they receive radiation therapy in esophageal cancer treatment.
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How Many Times Can You Have Radiation Therapy
As noted above, repeat radiation therapy has been tried in some types of head and neck cancers. However, in most patients, radiation treatment is given once. To qualify as a potential candidate for the second round of radiotherapy, the patient must meet certain conditions, including a good general health status, a small localized recurrence of the tumor that is well-circumscribed, clean surgical margins, more than 6 months having passed since the initial round of radiation therapy, availability of documentation on the initial radiotherapy for evaluation, a reserve capacity in the surrounding normal tissue to withstand radiation, and assessment and recommendation by an interdisciplinary cancer treatment team.
Notably, a second round of radiation therapy alone may not work. Without surgery, cancer has a high chance of coming back. A crucial part of successful treatment of the disease is a collaborative approach with the radiation oncologist working with the surgeon.
How Do You Assure That The Equipment Is Functioning Properly
In addition to employing full-time board certified medical physicists, UC Davis also has a full-time clinical engineer and IT staff on site to assure that the radiation equipment functions properly. These experts work diligently to establish and validate the proper treatment plan and delivery prior to use.
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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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How Radiation Therapy And Chemotherapy Are Used To Treat Cancer
No body and no cancer is created equal. And no approach to cancer treatment should be created equal, too. While chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both designed to treat the body and to fight cancer, each does so in different ways.
Each person’s body and each type of cancer can respond to treatments differently, so this is where an expert-level of care with access to some of the most advanced treatments, technologies, research, physician specialists and a whole-person approach to care become so important.
While some patients may only receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy, others may receive a combination of both, or even additional treatments such as immunotherapy, more personalized medicine or clinical trials. These are all things that our cancer experts help patients with every day to offer the best possible outcomes for cancer treatment, recovery and cure.
Learn more about innovative cancer treatments at the AdventHealth Cancer Institute, or call for more information.
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Questions To Ask The Health Care Team
Consider asking your health care team these questions if radiation therapy is recommended as part of your cancer treatment plan:
What type of radiation therapy is recommended for me? Why?
What is the goal of having radiation therapy? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
How long will it take to have this treatment? How often will I have radiation therapy?
Will I need to get a mesh mask or support made before my treatment begins? Can you describe this process?
Where will I receive radiation therapy?
What short-term side effects can I expect during radiation therapy?
What can be done to relieve side effects I experience?
Who should I talk with about any side effects I experience? How soon?
How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
What are the possible long-term side effects of this type of radiation therapy?
Whom should I call with questions or problems?
How can I reach them during regular office hours? After hours?
If I’m very worried or anxious about having this treatment, what can I talk with?
If I’m worried about managing the cost of this treatment, who can help me?
Will special precautions be needed to protect my family and others from radiation therapy I receive?
Will I receive other cancer treatments in addition to radiation therapy?
When will we know if this treatment was successful? How?
Things To Know About Radiation
1. OverviewRadiation therapy is a treatment for tumors and cancer. It uses high energy and concentration of radiation in order to shrink tumors or kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Nearly half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy during their treatment.
2. How?If your doctor has decided that radiation will be an effective treatment for your specific form of cancer than a CT scan will be performed in order to begin mapping out the exact position and locations that the radiation will be administered. The oncologist will treat the tumor as well as a small portion of healthy cells around, this is done to ensure that the tumor has been hit.
4. Side EffectsThere are some general side effects to radiation therapy but the majority of serious ones are site specific. This means that the area being treated will most likely experience the most effects. Some of the common ones are:Skin Problems Fatigue
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Are Side Effects The Same For Everyone
The side effects of radiation treatment vary from patient to patient. You may have no side effects or only a few mild ones through your course of treatment. Some people do experience serious side effects, however. The side effects that you are likely to have depend primarily on the radiation dose and the part of your body that is treated. Your general health also can affect how your body reacts to radiation therapy and whether you have side effects. Before beginning your treatment, your doctor and nurse will discuss the side effects you might experience, how long they might last, and how serious they might be.
Risk Of Developing Second Cancers After Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy was recognized as a possible cause of cancer many years ago. In fact, much of what we know about the health effects of radiation has come from studying survivors of atomic bomb blasts in Japan. We also have learned from workers in certain jobs that included radiation exposure, and patients treated with radiation therapy for cancer and other diseases.
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Why People With Cancer Receive Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer and ease cancer symptoms.
When used to treat cancer, radiation therapy can cure cancer, prevent it from returning, or stop or slow its growth.
When treatments are used to ease symptoms, they are known as palliative treatments. External beam radiation may shrink tumors to treat pain and other problems caused by the tumor, such as trouble breathing or loss of bowel and bladder control. Pain from cancer that has spread to the bone can be treated with systemic radiation therapy drugs called radiopharmaceuticals.
Types Of Radiation Therapy
Radiation can be administered in two ways: internally or externally:
External: External beam radiation is delivered from a machine. It is very similar to receiving a chest X-ray. Most people are treated five days a week for one to 10 weeks, depending on the type and location of cancer, their overall health, and other factors. The treatment only takes a few minutes, and is not generally given over the weekend.
You will be asked to lie flat on a treatment table, under the radiation machine. Other parts of your body may be protected with special shields or blocks to prevent the radiation from going to those areas.
External treatments include:
- 3D conformal radiation therapy after the tumor is mapped through imaging, beams of radiation treat the cancerous tumor.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy gives the radiation oncologists the ability to more precisely custom sculpt the shape of the tumor. This helps deliver the right amount of radiation more accurately, as well as helps to preserve healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
Internal: Radiation that is placed inside of the body is called internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy. A radioactive source, called an implant, is placed directly to the tumor or near the tumor. This delivers large doses of radiation to directly to the source of your cancer. These implants may look like a wire, pellet, or seeds.
The most common types of cancers treated with internal radiation therapy are:
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Which Therapy Do You Need
The type of cancer and what stage, or how far along, it is will help tell your doctor which therapy you need, or if you need both. In most cases, your doctor will want to approach treatment with a few different tools. These might include chemo and radiation, as well as surgery to remove tumors, targeted therapies, and other options.
You and your doctors may come up with a few different plans that could work. Donât be afraid to ask questions about the pros and cons of different approaches.
For Cancer That Has Spread
Your doctor might suggest chemotherapy if there is a chance that your cancer might spread in the future. Or if it has already spread.
Sometimes cancer cells break away from a tumour. They may travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
The cells may settle in other parts of the body and develop into new tumours. These are called secondary cancers or metastases. The drugs circulate in the bloodstream around the body to treat any cancer cells that have spread.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
Coping with a diagnosis of cancer and researching the various treatment options can be a stressful experience. To assist you in this process, below is a list of questions you may want to ask your radiation oncologist if you are considering radiation therapy.
Questions to ask before treatment
- What type and stage of cancer do I have?
- What is the purpose of radiation treatment for my type of cancer?
- How will the radiation therapy be given? Will it be external beam or brachytherapy? What do the treatments feel like?
- For how many weeks will I receive radiation? How many treatments will I receive per week?
- What are the chances that radiation therapy will work?
- Can I participate in a clinical trial? If so, what is the trial testing? What are my benefits and risks?
- What is the chance that the cancer will spread or come back if I do not have radiation therapy?
- Will I need chemotherapy, surgery or other treatments? If so, in what order will I receive these treatments? How soon after radiation therapy can I start them?
- How should I prepare for this financially?
- What are some of the support groups I can turn to during treatment?
- If I have questions after I leave here, who can I call?
- Will radiation therapy affect my ability to have children?
- Do you take my insurance?
Questions to ask during Treatment
Questions to ask After Treatment Ends
Which Is Harder On The Body: Chemo Or Radiation
It is difficult to say what cancer therapy will be more difficult for your body to handle. Different types and dosages of both chemotherapy and radiation will have different effects.
These effects also differ by the person getting them. So, for example, someone on one treatment might have extreme nausea, while another might have extreme tiredness.
A systemic treatment like chemotherapy or liquid radiation may have more off-target side effects than a local treatment. But local treatments that are administered only to the cancer site, like external beam radiation or solid internal radiation treatment, may have more extreme side effects in that area of the body.
Ask your doctor about what treatment options apply to you and how they could adjust these treatments or care for your symptoms if you have side effects.
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Surgery + Radiation Vs Chemotherapy
Due to the drawbacks of concurrent treatment , it is more likely that your treatment plan will include various treatments sequentially, or one after the other, if you are having multiple treatments. Your treatment plan may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy or a combination of any of these. If surgery is recommended, you may be given radiation or chemotherapy before or after.
- When radiation or chemotherapy is administered before surgery to help shrink a cancer tumor or kill cancer cells outside the tumor, it is called neoadjuvant therapy.
- When radiation or chemo is used following surgery, the goal is to kill off any cancer cells that may have been left behind to reduce the chances of recurrence. This is called adjuvant therapy.
When treatments are used in succession, your body has more time to heal between therapies, and side effects tend to be fewer and less severe.
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Managing The Side Effects Of Cancer Treatment
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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