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What’s The Difference Between Chemo And Radiation

Radiations Benefits And Risks

Radiation Treatment: How is Radiation Treatment Given?

Radiation treatments can continue killing cancer cells for weeks or months after your initial treatment.

Different types of radiation treatment will have different risks and side effects. For example, local radiation can have side effects if nearby healthy tissues are damaged during treatment.

Side effects of radiation may include nausea, mouth sores, and throat problems that make it hard to eat. Youll also feel exhausted and weak as your body works to heal and remove damaged cells.

Systemic radiation with an internal radioactive liquid can have more side effects throughout the body. Still, local radiation can have specific side effects depending on where in the body you are getting treated.

You’ll likely feel pretty good when starting radiation treatment but feel progressively more run-down as your treatments continue, and even after they’re done. Side effects from radiation should improve within a few weeks or months, but some may persist or show up in the longer termmonths or even years after treatment.

Difference Between Radiation And Chemotherapy

March 28, 2011 Posted by Olivia

Radiation vs Chemotherapy

Radiation and chemotherapy are treatment methods that are used to destroy cancerous cells once this deadly disease has been diagnosed by the doctors. Cancer is becoming more and more common these days and doctors are finding themselves unable to have a miracle cure for this dreaded disease. A vast majority of people are unaware of the difference between radiation and chemotherapy. Many talk of them interchangeably, while others think that they have same working and effects. However, the two methods are entirely different and have their limitations and features that are also different.

One thing to note is that both radiation and chemotherapy are used to treat cancer. Sometimes, they are used alone, sometimes in conjunction with each other and surgery. Chemotherapy is actually the use of drugs to kill cancerous cells while radiation is use of rays to generate heat and kill these cells.

There are different ways to administer these treatment methods. While in chemotherapy, drugs are either given orally or injected into the body of the patient, in radiation, your body, especially the part suffering from cancer is subjected to radiation through a machine. Sometimes, doctors insert a radioactive material inside the body to kill cancer cells.

In brief:

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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What Are Common Side Effects Of Chemo And Radiation

Chemo and radiation cause similar side effects. Chemo is a general term for a wide variety of medicines used to treat cancer. Chemo’s side effects depend on the type of drug used, the dosage, and a child’s overall health. These effects are more likely to affect the whole body.

Radiation’s side effects tend to affect the area being treated. But they do still depend on the dose of radiation given, the location on the body, and whether the radiation was internal or external.

Here are some of the side effects associated with these cancer treatments, and how to manage them:


Tiredness is the most common side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation. Even the most active kids are likely to find themselves exhausted and perhaps even a little “foggy-headed” during treatment and possibly for a while afterward. This is normal. Encourage your child to scale back on activities and to rest as much as possible. When treatment is over, your child’s energy should return.


Some chemo drugs cause headaches, muscle pains, stomach pains, or even temporary nerve damage that can result in burning, numbness, or tingling in the hands and feet. If this happens, your doctor can prescribe medicines that can help. Never use over-the-counter or herbal medicines without your doctor’s OK, though, as these can interact with the chemo drugs.

Mouth, Gum, and Throat Sores

Gastrointestinal Problems

Skin Changes

Weight Changes

Hair Loss

Kidney and Bladder Problems


Blood Clotting Problems

How Are Side Effects On The Blood Managed

Chemo: What Is The Difference Between Chemo And Radiation

In some cases, radiation therapy can cause low levels of white blood cells and platelets. These blood cells normally help your body fight infection and prevent bleeding. If large areas of active bone marrow are treated, your red blood cell count may be low as well. If your blood tests show these side effects, your doctor may wait until your blood counts increase to continue treatments. Your doctor may check your blood counts regularly and change your treatment schedule if it is necessary.

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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.

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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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.

Prices & Where To Get It

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Intravenous and injectable chemotherapies are given in a hospital or outpatient clinic. A pharmacist mixes and prepares these medications, and an oncology nurse administers them. Oral and topical chemo are purchased through a specialty pharmacy and can be administered at home.

The price of chemotherapy varies based on which medications are used and where you receive your treatment. In addition to health insurance, many drug companies offer discounts or free drug programs.

If you’re diagnosed with cancer, make an appointment with your clinic’s oncology social worker and financial advocate for assistance with available programs.

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Which Treatment Is Best For You

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network provides guidelines for your oncology team to follow. Together with the recommendations of your oncologist, a treatment plan that best fits your needs will be created. Factors that determine what treatment you’re eligible for include the following:

  • Type and stage of cancer
  • Genetics/molecular makeup of the cancer
  • Your past and current state of health
  • Quality of life issues

In addition, you may qualify for a clinical trial and receive cutting-edge medication at a low cost.

Being Prepared And Understanding Radiation Therapy Can Help Lessen Some Of The Stress Surrounding Your Treatment

Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is one of the main treatments for cancer. Being prepared and understanding radiation therapy can help lessen some of the stress surrounding your treatment. Ask your oncologist, doctor or nurse about the risks and benefits of radiation therapy and any other questions you have about your treatment.

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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.

Before Treatment

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.

During 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.

Can Chemo And Radiation Be Used Together To Treat Cancer

Radiation and Chemo (

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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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.

Is Radiation Therapy Safe For Patients And Their Families

Doctors have safely and effectively used radiation therapy to treat cancer for more than 100 years. Like other cancer treatments, radiation therapy causes side effects. Talk with your health care team about what to expect and what you are experiencing during and after your treatment. While most people feel no pain when each treatment is being delivered, effects of treatment slowly build up over time and may include discomfort, skin changes, or other side effects, depending on where in the body treatment is being delivered.

Having radiation therapy slightly increases the risk of developing a second cancer later in life. But for many people, radiation therapy eliminates the existing cancer. This benefit is greater than the small risk that the treatment could cause a new cancer in the future.

During external-beam radiation therapy, the patient does not give off any radiation after treatment sessions. Any radiation remains in the the treatment room.

However, internal radiation therapy causes the patient to give off radiation. As a result, visitors should follow these safety measures, unless other directions are given by the patient’s doctor:

  • Do not visit the patient if you are pregnant or younger than 18

  • Stay at least 6 feet from the patient’s bed

  • Limit your stay to 30 minutes or less each day

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What Happens During My Consultation

At this time, you will have a physical examination by your radiation oncologist and a resident. All of your records, including x-rays and test results, will be reviewed. Please remember to bring what medical records you are hand-carrying as these are essential to your evaluation. Treatment options, including the risks, benefits and outcomes will be explained. Bringing a spouse, and /or family member or friend is strongly encouraged as they may help with questions or take notes. Please expect to be here several hours for this initial visit.

What Is The Difference Between Radiation Therapy And Chemotherapy

Is the COVID vaccine safe for people who are being treated for cancer?

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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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

How Is Radiation Therapy Given

Radiation therapy can be given in 3 ways:

  • External radiation : uses a machine that directs high-energy rays from outside the body into the tumor. Its done during outpatient visits to a hospital or treatment center. It’s usually given over many weeks and sometimes will be given twice a day for several weeks. A person receiving external radiation is not radioactive and does not have to follow special safety precautions at home.
  • Internal radiation: Internal radiation is also called brachytherapy. A radioactive source is put inside the body into or near the tumor. With some types of brachytherapy, radiation might be placed and left in the body to work. Sometimes it is placed in the body for a period of time and then removed. This is decided based on the type of cancer. Special safety precautions are needed for this type of radiation for a period of time. But it’s important to know if the internal radiation is left in the body, after a while it eventually is no longer radioactive.
  • Systemic radiation: Radioactive drugs given by mouth or put into a vein are used to treat certain types of cancer. These drugs then travel throughout the body. You might have to follow special precautions at home for a period of time after these drugs are given.

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What Is Internal Radiation Therapy

Internal radiation therapy is also called brachytherapy. This type of radiation therapy is when radioactive material is placed into the cancer or surrounding tissue. Implants may be permanent or temporary. This treatment may require a hospital stay.

The different types of internal radiation therapy include:

  • Permanent implants. These are tiny steel seeds that contain radioactive material. The capsules are about the size of a grain of rice. They deliver most of the radiation therapy around the implant area. However, some radiation may exit the patient’s body. This requires safety measures to protect others from radiation exposure. Over time, the implants lose radioactivity. The inactive seeds remain the body.

  • Temporary internal radiation therapy. This type of radiation therapy can be given by needle, through a tube called a catheter, and through special applicators. The radiation stays in the body for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Most people receive internal radiation therapy for just a few minutes. Sometimes, internal radiation therapy can be given for more time. If so, they stay in a private room to limit other people’s exposure to radiation.

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