Rapid Radiation Therapy For Lung Cancer
Treatment times: Traditionally, patients with early-stage lung cancer receive about seven weeks of radiation therapy. That time can be reduced to just three to five treatments over two weeks, and patients with advanced cancer that has not metastasized can be treated in about four weeks, says Dr. Decker.
New advances: By using high-precision, on-board imaging technology that offers the ability to target tumors more accurately, we can deliver higher radiation doses in a shorter number of treatments, he says.
Who is eligible: Patients with cancer limited to the chest, who are not going to receive chemotherapy, may be candidates for hypofractionated radiotherapy.
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.
Coping With Feeling Sick
Always tell your team if you have nausea or vomiting during or after your treatment. They can give you anti-sickness drugs or change the drugs you are taking. They will explain when and how to take the drugs. These drugs often work better when you take them regularly, or before you start to feel sick. Tell your team if the sickness does not improve.
Read Also: Stages Of Breast Cancer Chart
Should I Limit Contact With People During Radiation
External beam radiotherapy targets the radiation at the tumor to kill cancer cells. Theres no lingering radioactivity. You dont need to worry about being radioactive at any time during or after treatment.
If you have internal radiation therapy , you may need to be cautious. Brachytherapy involves placing a contained dose of radiation near the tumor. While its active in your body, you may give off a bit of radiation.
While its active, you may need to limit contact with all people. You may just need to avoid pregnant people and young children. This will depend on the radiation dose.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Radiotherapy is the single most effective non-surgical treatment of cancer. In terms of overall cost, radiotherapy consumes only 5% of total spending for cancer care while forming a significant part of the treatment plan for almost 40% of patients and is responsible for a cure in about 16%. There has been huge progress in the field to improve effectiveness and minimize side effects. Some techniques that can be used to reduce side effects are:
Also Check: Stage 4 Prostate Cancer How Long Will I Live
Does Radiation Therapy Make Me Radioactive
There are different methods of radiation therapy. The two main types are external beam and brachytherapy:
External beam radiation targets a dose of radiation directly at a tumor. The radiation damages and kills cancer cells. Theres no radiation left in your body from this treatment.
Brachytherapy places a source of radiation inside your body near the tumor. Radiation from the implant targets the cancer cells. You may give off some radiation while the implant works inside your body. Once a doctor removes the implant, you can no longer give off radiation.
You may have other side effects depending on the site of radiation therapy. Radiation techniques have improved to reduce damage to other cells. But areas around the tumor are often still affected by radiation.
Your doctor and cancer care team can help you find ways to manage side effects.
Below are some specific side effects of different radiation sites.
Treatment for brain cancer may involve a few targeted sites of higher dose radiation. It could also be a lower dose of radiation used on a larger area of the brain. Your doctor will discuss the best plan for you.
Some side effects are delayed and can start after treatment. Short-term side effects are related to brain swelling from the effects of radiation.
Side effects of radiation to the brain can
- changes to the skin or hair on your head
Everyone experiences the side effects of radiation therapy a bit differently. It will depend on the:
Coping With Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
Everyoneâs experience with radiation therapy is different. Side effects vary from person to person, even when given the same type of treatment. Before your treatment, ask your health care team which physical side effects are possible and what to watch for. There can also be emotional side effects, and seeking out mental health support to help with anxiety or stress is important. Ask your health care team about ways to take care of yourself during the treatment period, including getting enough rest, eating well, and staying hydrated. Ask whether there are any restrictions on your regular exercise schedule or other physical activities.
And, continue talking with the team throughout your treatment. Always tell your health care team when side effects first appear, worsen, or continue despite treatment. That will allow your health care team to provide ways to help you feel better during and after treatment.
Read Also: Can Chemo Affect Your Eyes
Read Also: West Cancer Center Wolf River
Advances Of Radiation Therapy
Despite possible long-term side effects of radiation treatment, it’s essential to point out that radiation therapy has come a long since it was introduced in 1903, especially in recent years. With more precise dosing and newer methods of delivery, older studies may overestimate the risks.
At the same time, as people are living longer with cancer, the long-term effects of radiation will become increasingly important. It’s estimated that 50% of people diagnosed with cancer will receive radiation therapy at some point in their journey.
Life After Radiation Therapy
For most people, the cancer experience doesnt end on the last day of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy usually does not have an immediate effect, and it could take days, weeks or months to see any change in the cancer. The cancer cells may keep dying for weeks or months after the end of treatment. It may be some time before you know whether the radiation therapy has controlled the cancer.
Learn more about:
Don’t Miss: Natural Remedies For Neuropathy From Chemo
Staying On Track With Radiation Treatments
The benefits of radiation therapy strongly depend on getting the full recommended dose without significant breaks, because:
The full dose of radiation is needed to get rid of any cancer cells remaining after surgery.
Radiation therapy is most effective when given continuously on schedule. In the past, it was given every day, 5 days a week, for 5 to 7 weeks. Accelerated, also called hypofractionated, radiation therapy schedules deliver about the same total dose of radiation over a shorter schedule usually 3 to 4 weeks, which can be more convenient. Partial breast radiation can be completed in 1 to 3 weeks. Also, by seeing your doctor regularly during and after treatment, you can best deal with any side effects.
Why you might have problems sticking to your radiation therapy plan:
The treatment schedule may conflict with job demands, family needs, or the distance you live from the treatment facility. This may cause you to miss or postpone appointments, even if youre on an accelerated schedule.
Skin irritation from radiation can cause soreness, peeling, and sometimes blisters. If you’ve also had lymph-node surgery, radiation treatment may worsen breast or underarm pain or discomfort. If you have these side effects, you might feel like stopping radiation.
Ways to overcome problems and stay on track with radiation treatment:
How Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Speed Up Radiation Recovery
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy makes it possible to minimize and even reverse your radiation symptoms. It uses powerful 100% oxygen at pressures above regular atmospheric pressure to stream oxygen through your bloodstream.
The pressure of HBOT drives oxygen not just into the bloodstream, but also into lymph tissue, bone tissue, red blood cells, and other critical locations. Since oxygen is critical for all healing functions, HBOT can reduce cell death, relieve pain, stimulate new growth of blood vessels, and boost circulation.
As a result, tissues damaged by radiation or suffering from nutrient deficiencies can quickly become revitalized and enhanced. The oxygenation that occurs during HBOT promotes cellular growth that combats the harmful effects of radiation therapy and helps you recover more efficiently.
Read Also: How Is Colorectal Cancer Diagnosed
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
Does Radiation Have More Or Fewer Side Effects Than Chemotherapy
Many of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation are similar. Both treatments work to kill cancer cells. Both also damage healthy cells in the process.
Radiation can be a more targeted therapy. In some cases, there are fewer side effects than chemotherapy.
The type and severity of side effects from either treatment will also depend on the:
- area of the body undergoing treatment
For many people, both radiation and chemotherapy may be part of the treatment plan.
Don’t Miss: Surgery Vs Radiation For Prostate Cancer
Your Role On Your Radiation Therapy Team
Your radiation therapy care team will work together to care for you. Youre a part of that team, and your role includes:
- Getting to your appointments on time.
- Asking questions and talking about your concerns.
- Telling someone on your care team when you have symptoms related to your treatment.
- Telling someone on your care team if youre in pain.
- Caring for yourself at home by:
- Quitting smoking if you smoke. If you want to quit, call our Tobacco Treatment Program at .
- Caring for your skin based on your care teams instructions
- Drinking liquids based on your care teams instructions.
- Eating the foods your care team suggests.
- Staying around the same weight.
What Is Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a commonly used therapy for many types of cancer. For breast cancer, radiation is typically used after surgery to help reduce the risk of cancer returning. It can also help treat a symptom, such as pain, in someone with cancer that has spread outside the breast.
During treatment, a dose of ionizing radiation is targeted at the tumor. It is often given each day, Monday through Friday, for one to six weeks. Each dose of radiation is referred to as a fraction.
Radiation damages the DNA inside the cells its hitting, which causes the cells death. Unfortunately, radiation can also damage healthy cells, leading to side effects. Some body tissues can handle radiation better than others, so side effects may occur quickly or appear later, even after radiation is done.
Also Check: The Stages Of Breast Cancer
Radiation Therapy And Risk Of A Second Cancer
In rare cases, radiation therapy to the breast can cause a second cancer.
The most common cancers linked to radiation therapy are sarcomas . For women who are long-term smokers, radiation therapy may also increase the risk of lung cancer .
The risk of a second cancer is small. If your radiation oncologist recommends radiation therapy, the benefits of radiation therapy outweigh this risk.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
If You Have Side Effects
Let your doctor or nurse know if you have side effects or are worried about anything.
When treatment ends you usually have regular appointments for about 5 years afterwards. You can talk to your doctor or nurse at these appointments. But you don’t have to wait for your next appointment if you get a new side effect or are worried about anything. You can bring the appointment forward.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence June 2018
Treatment of primary breast cancerScottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, September 2013
Postoperative radiotherapy for Breast Cancer: UK consensus statement
The Royal College of Radiologists, 2016
Early Breast Cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines 2019F Cardoso and others
Also Check: The 4 Stages Of Breast Cancer
What Is Radiation Recall
Radiation recall is a rash that looks like a severe sunburn. It is rare but it can happen when certain types of chemotherapy are given during or soon after external-beam radiation therapy.
The rash appears on the part of the body that received radiation therapy. Symptoms may include redness, tenderness, swelling, wet sores, and peeling skin.
Typically, these effects start within days or weeks of starting radiation therapy. But they can also appear months or years later. Doctors treat radiation recall with medications called corticosteroids. Rarely, it may be necessary to wait until the skin heals to continue with chemotherapy.
Planning Your Radiotherapy Treatment
You will have a hospital appointment to plan your treatment. You will usually have a CT scan of the area to be treated. During the scan, you need to lie in the position that you will be in for your radiotherapy treatment.
Your radiotherapy team use information from this scan to plan:
- the dose of radiotherapy
- the area to be treated.
You may have some small, permanent markings made on your skin. The marks are about the size of a pinpoint. They help the radiographer make sure you are in the correct position for each session of radiotherapy.
These marks will only be made with your permission. If you are worried about them, talk to your radiographer.
Also Check: Can You Survive Ovarian Cancer
What Is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy And What Advantages Does It Offer
Stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT, involves the use of sophisticated image guidance that pinpoints the exact three-dimensional location of a tumor so the radiation can be more precisely delivered to cancer cells. Traditionally, external beam radiation has been delivered in anywhere from 45-48 sessions over multiple weeks. But large, randomized studies have shown that shorter courses of radiation are just as safe and effective. Therefore, at MSK, we have shortened all our radiation courses.
There is increasing interest in giving this radiation in very short courses of treatment using intense radiation doses, called hypofractionated radiation therapy. Many of the people we care for have a type of radiation therapy called MSK PreciseTM. This is a hypofractionated form of SBRT that can be given in five sessions. MSK has been doing this for the past 20 years, and the results in the several hundred people whove been treated have been excellent so far. The treatment is very well tolerated and quite effective
Because of its superior precision, MSK Precise can have fewer side effects than more conventional radiation techniques, with extremely low rates of incontinence and rectal problems. The sexual side effects are low, similar to what is experienced with more extended external radiation techniques. And of course, its much more convenient for patients.