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What Does Radiation Do To Your Body

When Is One Therapy Better Than The Other

What Does Radiation Poisoning Do to Your Body?

Sometimes, one of these treatments can be more effective than the other in treating a particular type of cancer. Other times, chemo and radiation can actually complement each other and be given together.

When you meet with your cancer care team, your oncologist will give you the options that will be most effective in treating your type of cancer.

Together with your cancer care team, you can decide on the treatment option thats right for you.

Chemo and radiation are sometimes used together to treat certain types of cancers. This is called concurrent therapy. This may be recommended if your cancer:

  • cannot be removed with surgery
  • is likely to spread to other areas of your body
  • isnt responding to one particular type of treatment

With both chemotherapy and radiation, theres a high likelihood of experiencing some side effects. But that doesnt mean you cant do anything about them.

Here are some tips to cope with the

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.

What Are Other Possible Early Side Effects From Radiation Therapy

Other early side effects you might have usually depend on where you get the radiation.

Eating Problems

Radiation therapy to the head, neck, or parts of the digestive system can make you lose your appetite. But it’s important to keep eating a healthy diet while youâre having treatment to keep your body strong.

  • Try eating five or six small meals spread out through the day instead of three large ones.
  • Try new recipes or foods.
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand. It will help you eat when you’re hungry rather than waiting for mealtimes and maybe losing your appetite.

Mouth Problems

Before you start radiation to your head or neck, see your dentist for a thorough exam. Radiation can cause problems in your mouth that include:

  • Trouble swallowing

Tell your cancer team about any of these problems so they can help you feel better. To help manage these side effects:

  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods.
  • Don’t smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol.
  • Brush your teeth often with fluoride toothpaste and a soft brush.

Hearing Problems

Radiation therapy to the head can sometimes cause hearing problems. One reason might be that it hardens the wax in your ears. Let your doctor know if you have trouble hearing.

Nausea

Radiation to the head, neck, and any part of the digestive tract can cause nausea and vomiting. Let your doctor know if that happens. They can give you medicine to control it. Also, you might be able to learn relaxation techniques and biofeedback to help control and reduce feelings of nausea.

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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 Is Radiation Recall

Pin on Nuclear Radiation

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.

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What Happens If You Breathe In Radioactive Particles Or Swallow Contaminated Food Or Water

Inhaling or swallowing radioactive material delivers the source of radiation directly to your cells, increasing the risk of cancer developing in the tissues where they accumulate.

Radioactive iodine blown into the atmosphere by the 1986 Chernobyl explosion caused a large number of cases of thyroid cancer in people who drank contaminated milk. .

Iodine is essential for the normal function of the thyroid gland, and with its knack for attracting iodine the gland gets a concentrated dose of iodine-131 when contaminated milk is drunk. Thankfully, thyroid cancer is treatable by removal of the gland, although a lifetime of hormone supplements follows. With a half-life of just eight days, the level of radioactive iodine fell off quickly after the accident, so the risk of exposure dropped within weeks of the disaster.

Not so with the radioactive isotope of caesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years. Caesium is very soluble in water, so when it enters our bloodstream via contaminated food or water it ends up spreading throughout our bodies, and concentrating in muscle tissue in particular. Our bodies eventually turn over these tissues, but it takes three months to reduce the amount of caesium in our muscles by half, so the long-term exposure to beta and gamma radiation increases the chances of cancer developing in those tissues.

With a half-life of 29 years, strontium-90 joins caesium-137 as a long-lasting source of harmful radiation after nuclear accidents.

Which Cells In The Body Are Most Affected By Radiation

The cells and organs that are most affected by nuclear radiation are the ones that are actively reproducing, because the DNA is more exposed when the cell is in the process of dividing.

Blood cells have the highest turnover rate in our bodies, so the tissue where they are produced the rapidly dividing cells of the bone marrow is the most susceptible to radiation damage.

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What Side Effects Occur With Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis

If you are having radiation therapy to any part of the pelvis , you might have one or more of the digestive problems already described. You also may have some irritation to your bladder. This can cause discomfort or frequent urination. Drinking fluids can help relieve some of your discomfort. Your doctor can prescribe medication to deal with these problems.

There are also certain side effects that occur only in the reproductive organs. The effects of radiation therapy on sexual and reproductive functions depend on which organs are treated. Some of the more common side effects for both men and women do not last long after treatment. Others may be long-term or permanent. Before your treatment begins, ask your doctor about possible side effects and how long they might last.

Why People With Cancer Receive Radiation Therapy

What Does Radiation Actually Do To Your Body?

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.

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Does Radiation Damage Healthy Cells

Radiation often must pass through skin and other organs to reach a tumor, potentially damaging healthy cells near the treatment area and causing side effects such as nausea, fatigue and skin problems. However, with today’s technology, radiation therapy can be highly focused on the tumor to avoid exposing the surrounding area to damaging energy. Treatment is more precise and much safer than just five or ten years ago.

There are also body devices and drugs that help protect healthy cells from radiation. Because of these improvements, increasing numbers of people about a million cancer patients every year now receive radiation therapy.

What Does Radiation Feel Like

Radiation sickness happens when an individual is exposed to a high dose of ionizing radiation. The severity of the symptoms and illness depends on the type and amount of radiation, the exposure length and the part of the body that is exposed. Symptoms initially include nausea , vomiting, headache and diarrhoea.

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What Are The Health Effects Of Radiation Exposure

Radiation has been around us throughout our evolution. So our bodies are designed to deal with the low levels we’re exposed to every day. But too much radiation can damage tissues by changing cell structure and damaging DNA. This can cause serious health problems, including cancer.

The amount of damage that exposure to radiation can cause depends on several factors, including:

  • The type of radiation
  • The dose of radiation
  • How you were exposed, such as through skin contact, swallowing or breathing it in, or having rays pass through your body
  • Where the radiation concentrates in the body and how long it stays there
  • How sensitive your body is to radiation. A fetus is most vulnerable to the effects of radiation. Infants, children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to health effects than healthy adults.

Being exposed to a lot of radiation over a short period of time, such as from a radiation emergency, can cause skin burns. It may also lead to acute radiation syndrome . The symptoms of ARS include headache and diarrhea. They usually start within hours. Those symptoms will go away and the person will seem healthy for a little while. But then they will get sick again. How soon they get sick again, which symptoms they have, and how sick they get depends on the amount of radiation they received. In some cases, ARS causes death in the following days or weeks.

Who Is On My Radiation Therapy Team

Original protection from laptop electromagnetic radiation (EMR ...

A highly trained medical team specialized in giving radiation therapy will work together to provide you with the best possible care. This team may include the following professionals:

Radiation oncologist. This type of doctor specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat cancer. A radiation oncologist oversees radiation therapy treatments. They work closely with other team members to develop the treatment plan.

Radiation oncology advanced practitioners. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are also called advanced practitioners. This type of provider meets with patients and will collaborate with the radiation oncology team, including a supervising radiation oncologist.

Radiation oncology nurse. This type of nurse specializes in caring for people receiving radiation therapy. A radiation oncology nurse plays many roles in your treatment, including:

  • Answering questions about treatment

  • Monitoring your health during treatment

  • Helping you manage side effects of treatment

Medical radiation physicist. This professional helps design treatment plans. They are experts at using radiation equipment.

Dosimetrist. The dosimetrist helps your radiation oncologist calculate the right dose of radiation.

Radiation therapist or radiation therapy technologist. This professional operates the treatment machines and gives people their scheduled treatments.

Learn more about the oncology team.

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Questions To Ask The Health Care Team

Consider asking the health care team these questions if radiation therapy is a part of your recommended treatment plan:

  • What physical side effects are likely based on my specific radiation therapy treatment plan? When will they likely begin?

  • How can these side effects be prevented or managed?

  • How can I take care of the affected skin during my treatment period?

  • Who should I tell when a side effect appears or gets worse?

  • Are there specific side effects I should tell the doctor about right away?

  • Who can I talk with if I’m feeling anxious or upset about having this treatment?

  • If I’m having side effects that affect my nutrition, can you recommend an oncology dietitian?

  • What are other ways I can take care of myself during the treatment period?

  • Are there any restrictions on exercising or other physical activity during this treatment?

  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?

  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have a child? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?

  • What are the potential long-term effects of this type of radiation therapy?

  • If I’m worried about managing the financial costs of cancer care, who can help me?

  • Will special precautions be needed to protect my family and others from radiation exposure during my treatment period?

  • After radiation therapy is completed, what will my follow-up care plan be?

  • Why is follow-up care important for managing side effects of treatment?

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects.

Many people who get radiation therapy have fatigue. Fatigue is feeling exhausted and worn out. It can happen all at once or come on slowly. People feel fatigue in different ways and you may feel more or less fatigue than someone else who is getting the same amount of radiation therapy to the same part of the body. See Fatigue and Cancer Treatment to learn more.

Other radiation therapy side effects you may have depend on the part of the body that is treated. To see which side effects you might expect, find the part of your body being treated in the following chart. Many of the side effects in the list link to more information in the Side Effects section. Discuss this chart with your doctor or nurse. Ask them about the side effects that you might expect.

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Will Side Effects Limit My Activities

Not necessarily, says Yale Medicine radiation oncologist Lynn Wilson, MD, who is the chair of Therapeutic Radiology and a professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale School of Medicine. It will depend on what side effects you experienceand how severe they are. Many patients are able to go to work, keep house, and enjoy leisure activities while they are receiving radiation therapy. Others find that they need more rest than usual and therefore cannot do as much. You should try to do the things you enjoy, as long as you don’t become too tired. Your doctor may suggest that you limit activities that might irritate the area being treated. In most cases, you can have sexual relations if you wish. However, your desire for physical intimacy may be lower because radiation therapy may cause you to feel more tired than usual.

Mouth And Throat Changes

Radiation Treatment: How is Radiation Treatment Given?

Radiation therapy to the head and neck can cause mouth changes. Radiation not only kills cancer cells but can also harm healthy cells in the glands that make saliva and the moist lining of your mouth. You may have:

  • Loss/change in taste
  • Thickened saliva

Some problems, like mouth sores, may go away after treatment ends. Others, such as taste changes, may last for months or even years. Some problems, such as dry mouth, may get better but never go away.

Mouth Care After Radiation

Your Throat

Radiation therapy to the neck or chest can cause the lining of your throat to become swollen and sore. Your risk for throat changes depends on how much radiation you are getting, whether you are also having chemotherapy, and whether you use tobacco and alcohol while getting radiation therapy. You may notice throat changes in 23 weeks after starting radiation. These will likely get better 46 weeks after you have finished treatment.

Nutrition During Head, Neck or Chest Radiation

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How Does Radiation Attack The Body

In living organisms, ionizing radiation will impact the atoms, thereby posing a health risk by destroying tissue and DNA in the genes. Has enough energy to impact the atoms of living cells, thus destroying their genetic material . It can also have long-term effects on well-being, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Does Radiation Therapy Cause Cancer

It has long been known that radiation therapy can slightly raise the risk of getting another cancer. Its one of the possible side effects of treatment that doctors have to think about when they weigh the benefits and risks of each treatment. For the most part, the risk of a second cancer from these treatments is small and is outweighed by the benefit of treating the cancer, but the risk is not zero. This is one of the many reasons each case is different and each person must be part of deciding which kind of treatment is right for them. The risk is different depending on where the radiation treatment will be in the body.

If your cancer care team recommends radiation treatment, its because they believe that the benefits youll get from it will outweigh the possible side effects. Still, this is your decision to make. Knowing as much as you can about the possible benefits and risks can help you be sure that radiation therapy is best for you.

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