Saturday, February 24, 2024

Whats Worse Radiation Or Chemo

Practical Hints For Mouth Sores

Radiation Treatment vs. Chemotherapy
  • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush three times daily.
  • Rinse your mouth with a solution of one teaspoon baking soda and one teaspoon of salt, diluted in a glass of lukewarm water, three or four times daily.
  • Most commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol. Ask your health care provider about mouthwashes that are not irritating to your mouth.
  • Ulcer-ease is a commercial product that may provide temporary relief from sores.

To Cure Or Shrink Early

Some cancers are very sensitive to radiation. Radiation may be used by itself in these cases to make the cancer shrink or completely go away. In some cases, chemotherapy or other anti-cancer drugs may be given first. For other cancers, radiation may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor , or after surgery to help keep the cancer from coming back .

For certain cancers that can be cured either by radiation or by surgery, radiation may be the preferred treatment. This is because radiation can cause less damage and the part of the body involved may be more likely to work the way it should after treatment.

For some types of cancer, radiation and chemotherapy or other types of anti-cancer drugs might be used together. Certain drugs help radiation work better by making cancer cells more sensitive to radiation. Research has shown that when anti-cancer drugs and radiation are given together for certain types of cancer, they can help each other work even better than if they were given alone. One drawback, though, is that side effects are often worse when they are given together.

When To Use Radiation

Similar to chemotherapy, radiation can also be applied as a standalone treatment. It can also be used in conjunction with chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor , or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells .

Typically, doctors prefer radiation therapy prior to surgery to shrink the size of the tumor so that it can be removed more easily.

In some cases, palliative radiation is used to ease symptoms and improve quality of life in terminal cancer patients.

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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

Questions To Ask About Radiation Therapy

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Before treatment, youll be asked to sign a consent form saying that your doctor has explained how radiation therapy may help, the possible risks, the type of radiation to be used, and your other treatment options. Before signing the consent form, be sure that you have had a chance to get all your questions answered. Here are some of the things you may want to ask about:

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What Are The Key Differences Between Chemotherapy And Radiation

The major difference between chemo and radiation is the way theyre delivered.

Chemotherapy is a medication given to treat cancer thats designed to kill cancer cells. Its usually taken by mouth or given through an infusion into a vein or medication port.

There are many different types of chemotherapy drugs. Your doctor can prescribe the type thats most effective at treating your specific type of cancer.

Chemotherapy can have many side effects, depending on the type that youre getting.

Radiation therapy involves giving high doses of radiation beams directly into a tumor. The radiation beams change the DNA makeup of the tumor, causing it to shrink or die.

This type of cancer treatment has fewer side effects than chemotherapy since it only targets one area of the body.

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.

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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.

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Cancer Treatment: Radiation Therapy Versus Chemotherapy

#cancer What Happens After Chemo and Radiation Therapy

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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About Upmc Hillman Cancer Center

When you are facing cancer, you need the best care possible. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 70 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, with more than 200 oncologists making it easier for you to find world-class care close to home. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment. Most of all, we are here for you. Our patient-first approach aims to provide you and your loved ones the care and support you need. To find a provider near you, visit our website.


What Should Patients Know About Msks Approach To Treating Prostate Cancer

At MSK, we manage prostate cancer in a very comprehensive way, tailored to each patients disease. There is no one specific therapy that is best for everyone.

Our initial assessment includes a carefully evaluated biopsy and a very detailed MRI to show the location of the disease, the integrity or soundness of the capsule surrounding the prostate, and the amount of disease. We will often obtain next-generation imaging and do genomic testing. Then, based on that information and with input from the urologist, the radiation oncologist, and the medical oncologist we can provide a comprehensive recommendation.

The radiotherapy we do here at MSK is state-of-the-art and unparalleled. We are one of the few centers in the world to do MRI-based treatment planning and one of the few centers in the US to offer MRI-guided treatment. When we give brachytherapy, we use computer software that provides us with real-time information about the quality and accuracy of the seed implant during the procedure. It requires a great deal of collaboration with our medical physics team to try to get the most accurate positioning of the prostate during the actual three or four minutes of the treatment.

We make adjustments while the patient is still under anesthesia, so that when the procedure is completed, we have been able to achieve ideal placement of the radiation seeds. This translates into improved outcomes.

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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.

How Long Do Side Effects Last

Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy Side Effects

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.

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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

How Can I Combat Cancer Fatigue

The best way to combat fatigue is to treat the underlying cause. Unfortunately, the exact cause may be unknown, or there may be multiple causes. There are treatments to reduce certain causes of cancer fatigue, such as anemia or hypothyroidism. Other causes must be managed on an individual basis.

The following are tips you can use to combat cancer fatigue:

  • Conserve energy.

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First Steps To Therapy

After an oncologist diagnoses a patient with cancer, there will be an initial meeting to discuss the next steps. The doctor will explain the treatment options and which one is likely to have a positive result. The oncologist will consider the type of cancer, what parts of the body are affected and how serious it is. How much the disease has spread will also help determine whether the oncologist uses radiation or chemotherapy going forward.

What Is Radiation Therapy

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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.

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What Are The Benefits Of Chemotherapy

The main benefit of chemotherapy is its potential to destroy cancer cells. It remains one of the most potent tools we have to fight cancer. The potential benefit to each patient depends on treatment goals, which depend on the type of cancer, how advanced it is and what the patient hopes to get out of treatment.

For example, the goal might be to reduce the size of a tumor so that its easier to remove surgically. Or the goal might be to control disease progression as much as possible.

Some patients have cancer that has what we call curative potentialmeaning that if the cancer responds to chemotherapy, there may be no evidence of the disease after treatment. In these cases, the benefit is obvious. If theres a high likelihood that chemotherapy may get rid of your cancer, that benefit may outweigh possible side effects.

Some patients say they actually feel better and have more energy soon after starting chemotherapy because the symptoms of their cancer regress. When it happens, this improvement allows patients to enjoy some activities they hadnt felt up to doing.

Is chemotherapy worth it? In my years of experience as a medical oncologist, my answer is, Yes, usually. If its an option for you, its a decision youll have to make given your specific diagnosis and treatment goals.

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Can You Sleep During Chemo

The drugs used for chemotherapy can cause you to feel tired or fatigued. So you may take naps or sleep during the day, which can lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep at night. Also, some medications that you may take to combat the side effects of chemotherapy can contribute to sleep problems.

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Radiations Benefits And Risks

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.

What Is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy And What Advantages Does It Offer

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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.

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