Monday, March 4, 2024

What Is The Difference Between Radiation And Chemo

For Cancer That Has Spread

Ask the Expert: What is the difference between radiation and chemo therapy?

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.

Who Gets Radiation Therapy

More than half of people with cancer get radiation therapy. Sometimes, radiation therapy is the only cancer treatment needed and sometimes it’s used with other types of treatment. The decision to use radiation therapy depends on the type and stage of cancer, and other health problems a patient might have.

Can I Have Radiation Therapy If I Am Pregnant

If you are pregnant, you will probably not be able to have radiation therapy, as radiation can harm a developing baby. It’s important that you don’t become pregnant during treatment. Men who have radiation therapy should avoid getting their partner pregnant during treatment and for about six months afterwards, as radiation can damage sperm. Your doctor will be able to give you more information about radiation therapy and pregnancy.

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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.

Can Chemo And Radiation Be Used Together To Treat Cancer

Pin on Oncology

Some cancers can be treated with just radiation. These are most often cancers caught earlybefore they’ve grown large or started to spread.

Most of the time, cancer treatment plans will contain multiple treatments. These treatments can include radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery, targeted therapies, or immune therapies. When your doctor combines multiple treatments at once, its called a combination treatment plan.

Combination treatments are used for many reasons. Treatments may be more effective when theyre combined. For example, chemotherapy may make radiation treatments more effective.

If your doctor suggests undergoing one type of treatment before others, its called neoadjuvant treatment. Neoadjuvant treatments are typically used to shrink a tumor or destroy metastases before the primary tumor is surgically removed.

Treatments that come after others are called adjuvant treatments and are typically used to reduce the risk that cancers will return or spread after initial treatment or surgery on the primary tumor.

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What Are The Types Of External

The most common type of radiation therapy is external-beam radiation therapy. It delivers radiation from a machine outside the body. It can be used to treat large areas of the body, if needed.

A machine called a linear accelerator, or linac, creates the radiation beam for x-ray or photon radiation therapy. Special computer software adjusts the beam’s size and shape. This helps target the tumor while avoiding healthy tissue nearby.

Most radiation therapy treatments are given every weekday for several weeks. Form-fitting supports or a plastic mesh mask are used for radiation therapy to the head, neck, or brain to help people stay still and make sure the beam reaches the same area each session.

The different types of external-beam radiation therapy are:

Difference Between Radiation And Chemo

Categorized under Health | Difference Between Radiation and Chemo

Radiation vs Chemo

Cancer is a dreadful disease that affects thousands of people across the world. Luckily, there are two very effective treatments that can help tackle the onslaught of the disease and help cure it too. Both chemotherapy and radiation can be effectively used to tackle the malaise. However, there are a number of differences between the two treatments.

Method of action

Chemotherapy uses the bloodstream to deliver a deathblow to cancer cells. Trouble is, their action is not confined to cancer cells only. Since the drugs cannot differentiate between cancerous and non cancerous cells, they affect both. Chemotherapy uses medications that damage the DNA of a cell. This prevents them from duplicating themselves. However, since they cannot isolate cancer cells, they usually end up harming good cells also. Radiation on the other hand targets the cancer cells only. It uses a type of energy that destroys cells that are cancerous. It also minimizes tumors. Radiation therapy is also called X ray therapy, radiotherapy and irradiation.


Chemotherapy is used to deal with cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. It is also used to deal with cancers of the breast, lungs and ovaries.Radiation therapy targets the solid tumors. This includes those of the cervix, larynx prostate, skin and spine. They can also be used in case of breast cancers.


Method of administration

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Types Of Cancer That Are Treated With Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapy is used to treat many types of cancer.

Brachytherapy is most often used to treat cancers of the head and neck, breast, cervix, prostate, and eye.

A systemic radiation therapy called radioactive iodine, or I-131, is most often used to treat certain types of thyroid cancer.

Another type of systemic radiation therapy, called targeted radionuclide therapy, is used to treat some patients who have advanced prostate cancer or gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumor . This type of treatment may also be referred to as molecular radiotherapy.

Radiation And Chemotherapy: What Are The Differences

Difference between Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy | Dr. Thimappa Hegde

When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, they are often presented with three main treatment options chemotherapy radiation therapy and surgery. These can be done singularly or in combination with each other. The two most common treatments physicians recommend are radiation and chemotherapy. They both have the same goals, which are to:

  • Eliminate Cancer When used to destroy cancer cells to the point that it is no longer detectable in the patients body and will not grow back.
  • Control Cancer When used to keep cancer from spreading, to slow its growth or to destroy cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
  • Ease Cancer Symptoms Also known as palliative care, both radiation and chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumors that are causing pain or pressure.

While they may have the same goals overall, radiation and chemotherapy have very different ways of achieving those objectives.


Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly.


Radiation therapy involves high doses of radiation being delivered directly into the tumor to kill cancer cells. This treatment option may be used to eliminate cancer or help control the disease and ease the symptoms that it causes.


The key difference between the two is their delivery method.


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Are There Any Side Effects

Radiation therapy is usually well tolerated and many patients are able to continue their normal routines. However, some patients may eventually develop painful side effects. Be sure to talk to a member of your radiation oncology treatment team about any problems or discomfort you may have. Many of the side effects of radiation therapy are only in the area being treated. For example, a breast cancer patient may notice skin irritation, like a mild to moderate sunburn, while a patient with cancer in the mouth may have soreness when swallowing. Some patients who are having their midsection treated may report feeling sick to their stomach. These side effects are usually temporary and can be treated by your doctor or other members of the treatment team.

Side effects usually begin by the second or third week of treatment, and they may last for several weeks after the final radiation treatment. In rare instances, serious side effects develop after radiation therapy is finished. Your radiation oncologist and radiation oncology nurse are the best people to advise you about the side effects you may experience. Talk with them about any side effects you are having. They can give you information about how to manage them and may prescribe medicines or changes in your eating habits to help relieve your discomfort.

Where Will Treatment Take Place

Radiation therapy is usually given in private clinics or large hospitals. Treatment is given by trained staff called nuclear medicine specialists or radiation therapists. The treatment will be supervised by radiation oncologists who are the main treating medical specialists for people getting radiation therapy.

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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.

Cancer Treatment: Radiation Therapy Versus Chemotherapy

Future of therapy for rectal cancer

Cancer can be an ugly disease and take its toll on anyones body. If your oncologist recently gave you a diagnosis, you want to know what your outlook is and how you can conquer the illness. Some forms of the disease are worse than others, but in most situations, treatments are available. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are two of the most common ways to combat the condition. Each has benefits and challenges. Your oncologist will discuss with you which one makes the most sense in your situation.

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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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External Beam Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapy is radiation delivered from a distant source, from outside the body and directed at the patient’s cancersite. Systems which produce different types of radiation for external beam therapy include orthovoltage x-ray machines, Cobalt-60 machines, linear accelerators, proton beam machines, and neutron beam machines. A radiation oncologist makes decisions regarding the type of system that is best suited to treat a specific cancer patient. External beam therapy is the radiation therapy treatment option used for most cancer patients. It is used to treat many types of tumors including cancers of the head and neck area, breast, lung, colon, and prostate.

Depending upon tumor location, different levels of radiation are used for external beam therapy. Low-energy radiation does not penetrate very deeply into the body and is used mainly to treat surface tumors such as skin cancer. High-energy radiation is used to treat other deeper cancers.

Stereotactic radiation therapy involves focusing the radiation beam on a small area and delivering very high doses. The therapy targets a tumor from many different directions so the beams of radiation converge on the tumor. This way, the ideal amount of radiation needed to destroy tumor cells is delivered directly to the tumor growth, while the amount of exposure to the area surrounding the tumor is minimized. Stereotactic radiation therapy is very effective in treating small tumors such as those in the head and brain.

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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

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.

Medical Physicists


Radiation Therapists

Radiation Oncology Nurses

Other Healthcare professionals

Social Workers


Physical Therapists


Which Treatment Is Best For You

Dr. Beitler discusses the difference between radiation therapy and chemotherapy

How lung cancer is treated depends upon the stage, or how advanced the cancer is. The stages of lung cancer go from stage 0 to stage 4 .

Possible options for the treatment of lung cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy , and radiation therapy.

The best treatment for you is decided upon discussion with your cancer care team. This can include a medical oncologist, who would administer chemotherapy, as well as a radiation oncologist, who administers radiation.

Surgery is often part of a lung cancer treatment plan. At times surgery won’t be recommended due to the location of the tumor, the spread of cancer, or the ability of the person to tolerate surgery. Before or after surgery, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be given as well.

At times, radiation or chemotherapy may be the main treatment given. Some early stage lung cancers may be able to be cured with stereotactic radiation alone. Metastatic stage 4 lung cancer may not be treated with radiation, but instead, chemotherapy may be given.

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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.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • What drugs will I be given?
  • How often will I need treatment?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • What are the chances of success?
  • Are there other treatment options?
  • Is there anything I can do to reduce side effects?
  • What precautions should I take while on chemotherapy?
  • Are there any clinical trials I can participate in?
  • Id like to know how much of the treatment my insurance will cover. Can you point me to someone in your office who I could talk to about this?

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