What Else Do I Need To Know About Radiation Therapy Treatment Appointments
During your treatment period, your radiation oncologist will check how well radiation therapy is working. Typically, this will happen at least once a week. If needed, they may adjust your treatment plan.
While being treated, many people experience fatigue and sensitive skin at the site of radiation therapy. You may also experience emotional distress during radiation therapy. It is important to rest and take care of yourself during radiation therapy. Consider these ways to take care of yourself:
Is Chemo Painful Or Radiation
Chemotherapy is a drug-based treatment for cancer. It’s commonly administered intravenously, although some chemotherapy drugs are injected or taken orally. While this treatment may cause discomfort, it isn’t typically painful. Pain caused by nerve damage is a potential short-term effect of chemotherapy.
What Happens After Radiation Therapy Treatment Ends
Once your treatment plan is completed, you will have follow-up appointments with the radiation oncologist. It’s important to continue your follow-up care. Your health care team will want to check on your recovery and watch for treatment-related side effects, which may not happen right away.
As your body heals, you will need fewer follow-up visits. Ask your doctor for a . This is a helpful resource as you manage your long-term health care.
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Change In Breast Shape Size And Colour
If youve had radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, the breast tissue and nipple on the treated side may feel firmer than before, change colour or the breast may be smaller and look different.
Although this is normal, you may be concerned about differences in the size of your breasts, or worry that the difference is noticeable.
You can discuss this with your breast surgeon to see if anything can be done to make the difference less noticeable. These side effects may affect how you feel about your body, including how you feel about intimacy and sex.
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When You Might Have Chemotherapy
Whether you have chemotherapy as part of your treatment depends on what type of cancer you have, how big it is and whether it has spread or not.
Doctors use chemotherapy because it circulates throughout the body in the bloodstream. So it can treat cancer almost anywhere in the body. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment.
Surgery only removes the cancer from the area it is in the body. And radiotherapy only treats the area of the body it is aimed at.
You might have chemotherapy:
- to shrink a cancer before surgery or radiotherapy
- to try to stop cancer coming back after surgery or radiotherapy
- as a treatment on its own, if your type of cancer is very sensitive to it
- to treat cancer that has spread from where it first started
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.
Pain In The Breast Or Chest Area
You may have aches, twinges or sharp pains in the breast or chest area. These are usually mild. They may continue for months or years, but they usually become milder and less frequent over time.
You may also have stiffness and discomfort around the shoulder and breast or chest area during and after treatment.
Continuing to do arm and shoulder exercises during radiotherapy and for several months afterwards may help minimise or prevent stiffness or discomfort.
What Makes You Sick Chemo Or Radiation
Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy can cause nausea and vomiting. Some other drugs, such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting too. There many different kinds of each type of treatment. Some can make you have nausea and/or vomiting while others might not.
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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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Changes To The Reconstructed Breast
If you have a breast reconstruction using an implant, radiotherapy can cause the reconstructed breast to become firmer, change shape or become uncomfortable. You may hear this called capsular contracture.
If you have a breast reconstruction using your own tissue , radiotherapy can cause the tissue of the reconstruction to change shape or shrink.
If you notice changes to your reconstructed breast talk to your breast surgeon or breast care nurse.
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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Are There Side Effects Of The Combination Approach
There is a slightly higher chance that patients who receive the combined therapy will have rectal irritation or urinary side effects. This is common with prostate cancer radiation therapy because the radiation can damage cells in the tissues surrounding the prostate. But at MSK, we routinely use sophisticated computer-based planning techniques that help us reduce the dose given to normal tissues such as the rectum, bladder, and urethra, lessening the chances of side effects and complications. We have also found that, when treating with the combined approach, using the high-dose-rate brachytherapy compared to low-dose-rate brachytherapy may have less in the way of side effects.
In addition, at MSK, we routinely use a rectal spacer gel, which we inject between the prostate and the rectum while the patient is under mild anesthesia, to create a buffer between these two tissues. By creating this space, we can further reduce the dose of radiation the rectum is exposed to. This leads to fewer side effects for the patient. The rectal spacer gel is biodegradable and dissolves on its own within the body after a few months.
Radiation Oncology In Wooster Oh
Through our radiation oncology services here at Wooster Community Hospital, we provide care for and give hope to people batting various types of cancer. Just as our cancer care team has helped scores of patients in Wooster and all of its neighboring communities, we will work closely with you to ensure your comfort as you navigate your treatment while helping you achieve complete remission or even successfully defeat cancer.
To schedule an appointment with our cancer care team, you may call us at 263-8100 or fill out this form.
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What Is Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy or damage cancer cells.
Your cells normally grow and divide to form new cells. But cancer cells grow and divide faster than most normal cells. Radiation works by making small breaks in the DNA inside cells. These breaks keep cancer cells from growing and dividing and cause them to die. Nearby normal cells can also be affected by radiation, but most recover and go back to working the way they should.
While chemotherapy and other treatments that are taken by mouth or injection usually expose the whole body to cancer-fighting drugs, radiation therapy is usually a local treatment. This means its usually aimed at and affects only the part of the body needing treatment. Radiation treatments are planned so that they damage cancer cells with as little harm as possible to nearby healthy cells.
Some radiation treatments use radioactive substances that are given in a vein or by mouth. Even though this type of radiation does travel throughout the body, the radioactive substance mostly collects in the area of the tumor, so theres still little effect on the rest of the body.
Which Is Safer: Radiation Or Chemo
Radiation treatment involves the direct delivery of high-energy radiation beams into a tumor. The radiation beams cause the tumor’s DNA to alter, causing it to shrink or die. Because it only targets one part of the body, this sort of cancer treatment has less adverse effects than chemotherapy. However, radiation treatments are often repeated multiple times and can have significant side effects including infertility and nerve damage.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cells that divide too quickly. This approach is used in conjunction with other therapies such as radiation to treat cancers that spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy can also be used to treat breast cancer in men and women who have been diagnosed with metastatic disease .
The two methods of treating cancer are not mutually exclusive many patients receive both types of treatment. Radiation therapy plays an important role in many types of cancer treatment, especially when only a small number of lesions are present. It may be used alone or in combination with other therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Radiation therapy works best if given before a tumor spreads throughout the body. This may be possible at early stages of cancer when the size of the tumor is small enough for effective treatment. As cancer progresses, however, it is often not possible to give radiation therapy before the disease has spread.
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How Long Do Side Effects Last
Remember that the type of radiation side effects you might have depends on the prescribed dose and schedule. Most side effects go away within a few months of ending treatment. Some side effects may continue after treatment ends because it takes time for the healthy cells to recover from radiation.
Side effects might limit your ability to do some things. What you can do will depend on how you feel. Some patients are able to go to work or enjoy leisure activities while they get radiation therapy. Others find they need more rest than usual and cant do as much. If you have side effects that are bothersome and affecting your daily activities or health, the doctor may stop your treatments for a while, change the schedule, or change the type of treatment youre getting. Tell your cancer care team about any side affects you notice so they can help you with them.
Which Is Harder On The Body Radiation Or Chemo
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.
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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.
Whats Worse Radiotherapy Or Chemotherapy
Because radiation treatment focuses on a single part of your body, it may have less adverse effects than chemotherapy. However, it may still have an impact on healthy cells in your body. Radiation can cause digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. It can also affect the immune system and blood cells. Infertility is also an issue for men who receive radiation treatments.
Chemotherapy affects many parts of your body at once, so it has more side effects than radiation therapy. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill cancer cells, but they also attack healthy cells, especially cells that are dividing , causing them to become dysfunctional or die. Healthy cells that divide often include cells needed to maintain muscle tissue, hair, and skin. With time, even normal cells can become depleted due to the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy. Long-term effects depend on the type of chemotherapy drug used some people suffer from long-term side effects such as fatigue, pain, reduced immunity, and cognitive impairment while others appear to recover fully after chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy both have advantages and disadvantages. If you are able to choose between these two types of treatments, we recommend radiation therapy because it causes fewer side effects overall. But if you need both therapies to achieve complete remission of your disease, that’s okay too.
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