To Treat Cancer That Has Returned
If a person’s cancer has returned , radiation might be used to treat the cancer or to treat symptoms caused by advanced cancer. Whether radiation will be used after recurrence depends on many factors. For instance, if the cancer has come back in a part of the body that has already been treated with radiation, it might not be possible to give more radiation in the same place. It depends on the amount of radiation that was used before. In other instances, radiation might be used in the same area of the body or a different area. Some tumors do not respond as well to radiation, so radiation might not be used even if they recur.
Niels Finsen And Phototherapy
Niels Finsen, a Faroese-Danish physician, had by that time already pursued interest in the biological effects of light. He published a paper, Om Lysets Indvirkninger paa Huden in 1893. Inspired by the discovery that x-rays could have therapeutic effects, he extended his research to examine directed light rays. In 1896, he published a paper on his findings, Om Anvendelse i Medicinen af koncentrerede kemiske Lysstraaler . Finsen discovered that lupus was amenable to treatment by ultraviolet rays when separated out by a system of quartz crystals, and thereafter created a lamp to sift out the rays. The so-called Finsen lamp became widely used in for , and derivatives of it became used when experimenting with other types of radiotherapy. Modifications were made to Finsen’s original design, and it found its most common forms in the Finsen-Reyn lamp and Finsen-Lomholt lamp .
By 1905, it was estimated that fully 50 percent of the cases of lupus were successfully healed by Finsen’s methods. Finsen was soon awarded a Nobel prize for his research.
Does Radiation Therapy Weaken The Immune System
For most healthy individuals, a fever or cough is bothersome but not deadly. Thankfully, for many patients undergoing radiation therapy, their immune systems will not be affected by radiation therapy. This is because radiation is focused on specific targets in the body and can be designed to avoid the bone marrow which is where cells that make up the immune system are produced.
However, there are some patients undergoing radiation therapy who may be at an increased risk of infection due to the weakening of the immune system. This is more commonly seen in patients receiving concurrent chemotherapy or whose radiation treatment plan requires that larger volumes of bone marrow be exposed to radiation.
Here, we offer more insight into how radiotherapy affects the immune system and tips for improving your immunity during and after treatment.
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External Beam Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer Treatment
External beam radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to target your breast cancer. Advanced technology and 3D imaging help pinpoint the exact area of the breast where the cancer is located. The beams of radiation are then planned to conform to the exact shape of the tumor. With this type of radiation therapy technology, called IMRT, were able to reduce the amount of healthy tissue thats affected by these treatments.
Its typical for breast cancer patients receiving external beam radiation therapy to be given treatment five days a week for several weeks. In some cases, the radiation therapy treatments can be hypofractionated. Instead of one short session every weekday for 6-8 weeks, its possible to increase the dose per day to shorten the number of weeks that radiation therapy is needed. Some patients can be done with radiation in 4-5 weeks when hypofractionated therapy is used.
Each time you go to the cancer center for radiation therapy treatments, youll lie on a table in the radiation-delivery machine . Theyll take some time to be sure youre in the same spot in each treatment session. Try to wear clothes that are loose fitting and make it easy for you to lie down.
When Do Patients With Lung Cancer Receive Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is often used as part of the initial treatment for patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer. For later-stage patients, radiation therapy may be used to shrink tumors that have developed in areas of the body outside of the lungs.
Before starting any cancer treatment, the oncology team including the medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and surgeon will discuss the best treatment recommendation based on several factors. Depending on your situation, radiation can be used in one or more periods of the treatment process.
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Immune System Recovery After Radiation Therapy
For most patients undergoing radiation therapy, the effects on the bone marrow will be minimal. However, for patients whose immune system is affected by treatment, the bone marrow may take several weeks to return to normal, and in rare cases, the impairment may be permanent.
Luckily, you can help your immune system recover by following common sense practices such as:
- Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Eliminating tobacco and avoiding alcohol
- Limiting stress
- Sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night
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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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.
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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Further Development And The Use Of Radium
Because of the excitement over the new treatment, literature about the therapeutic effects of x-rays often exaggerated the propensity to cure different diseases. Reports of the fact that in some cases treatment worsened some of the patients’ conditions were ignored in favor of hopeful optimism. Henry G. Piffard referred to these practitioners as “radiomaniacs” and “radiografters”. It was found that x-rays were only capable of producing a cure in certain cases of the basal cell type of epithelioma and exceedingly unreliable in malignant cancer, not making it a suitable replacement for surgery. In many cases of treatment, the cancer recurred after a period of time. X-ray experiments in pulmonary tuberculosis proved useless. Aside from the medical profession losing faith in the ability of x-ray therapy, the public increasingly viewed it as a dangerous type of treatment. This resulted in a period of pessimism about the use of x-rays, which lasted from about 1905 to 1910 or 1912.
Are There Alternative Treatment Options For Cancer
There are many treatments and combinations of treatments used for cancer. Radiation can be used alone or with other treatment strategies like chemotherapy and surgery. Alternative therapies and adjunctive treatments are always being researched and developed, but you should talk with your medical team about any new treatments you would like to try. They can also guide you if you are interested in participating in a clinical trial for new therapies.
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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:
Questions To Ask The Health Care Team
Consider asking your health care team these questions if radiation therapy is recommended as part of your cancer treatment plan:
What type of radiation therapy is recommended for me? Why?
What is the goal of having radiation therapy? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
How long will it take to have this treatment? How often will I have radiation therapy?
Will I need to get a mesh mask or support made before my treatment begins? Can you describe this process?
Where will I receive radiation therapy?
What short-term side effects can I expect during radiation therapy?
What can be done to relieve side effects I experience?
Who should I talk with about any side effects I experience? How soon?
How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
What are the possible long-term side effects of this type of radiation therapy?
Whom should I call with questions or problems?
How can I reach them during regular office hours? After hours?
If I’m very worried or anxious about having this treatment, what can I talk with?
If I’m worried about managing the cost of this treatment, who can help me?
Will special precautions be needed to protect my family and others from radiation therapy I receive?
Will I receive other cancer treatments in addition to radiation therapy?
When will we know if this treatment was successful? How?
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Radiation Therapy And Your Skin
Radiotherapy can also weaken immunity by compromising the bodys first line of defense: the skin.
The skin forms a physical barrier against germs. In specific circumstances, high doses of radiation can injure the skin by creating breaks in the skin or sores through which germs can enter the body. Your radiation oncologist may prescribe topical treatments to help reduce this risk of infection if you develop skin breakdown during the course of treatment.
How Is Radiation Therapy Used To Treat Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is a highly effective and commonly used treatment to target and kill cancer cells and shrink cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams or particles to damage cancer cells DNA. This prevents the cells from dividing, resulting in cell death. Radiation therapy can be used alone or in combination with other breast cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, surgery, or other therapies. The recommended treatment plan and the timing of those treatments will be based on several factors specific to you.
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Side Effects Of Palliative Radiation Therapy
In general, the side effects after palliative radiation are minimal because the doses used are lower than those used when curative radiation is given. Before radiation is planned and delivered the radiation oncologist sits with the patient and explains all the potential side effects of the treatment.
These vary depending on exactly what area of the body is being treated and the number of treatments and dose being given.
General side effects include tiredness and minor skin redness in the area being treated. Nausea/sickness can occur with some treatments such as brain radiation and areas around the stomach/abdomen. If your radiation oncologist thinks that nausea/sickness may occur you will be given an anti sickness tablet half an hour before each treatment.
These tablets are very effective at preventing and controlling sickness.
It is important that you discuss any side effects that you are experiencing with your doctor so that these can be managed effectively.
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.
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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.
What Is Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy, is a cancer treatment that uses focused radiation to kill cancer cells or damage them so they cannot grow or spread. Different forms of radiotherapy may use different kinds of radiation including x-rays, gamma rays or proton beams.
Radiotherapy is a localised cancer treatment. This means that it targets only the area affected by cancer. Your medical team will plan your treatment to minimise damage to healthy, cancer-free cells and organs around the cancer.
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What You Can Expect
External beam radiation therapy is usually conducted using a linear accelerator a machine that directs high-energy beams of radiation into your body.
As you lie on a table, the linear accelerator moves around you to deliver radiation from several angles. The linear accelerator can be adjusted for your particular situation so that it delivers the precise dose of radiation in order to achieve maximum effect of dose delivery.
You typically receive external beam radiation on an outpatient basis five days a week over a certain period of time. In most instances, treatments are usually spread out over several weeks to allow your healthy cells to recover in between radiation therapy sessions.
In some cases, a single treatment may be used to help relieve pain or other symptoms associated with more-advanced cancers.
Youll lie still and breathe normally during the treatment, which takes only a few minutes. For some patients with lung or breast cancer, you might be asked to hold your breath while the machine delivers the treatment.
Your radiation therapy team stays nearby in a room with video and audio connections so that you can talk to each other. You should speak up if you feel uncomfortable, but you shouldnt feel any pain during your radiation therapy session.