Saturday, February 24, 2024

When Radiation Does Not Work

Radiation To The Pelvis

Chemo and Radiation Treatment Does NOT Work 97% of The Time

Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause bowel and bladder problems in some patients, including:

  • Urinating more than usual
  • Sexual and/or problems getting pregnant or fathering a child

Management of Side Effects during Pelvic Radiation Therapy

  • Do not eat raw fruits, vegetables or whole grains
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Drink cranberry juice as part of fluid intake
  • Ask your doctor or nurse for medicine if you have painful urination or to lessen frequent loose stools
  • Use birth control to prevent pregnancy
  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines that decrease the number of bowel movements.

How Long Will Side Effects Last

In time, most side effects go away. However, some may be permanent and others may not appear until after treatment has finished.

If the side effects are severe, the radiation oncologist may change the treatment or prescribe a break. If the doctor thinks pausing treatment could affect how well the treatment is working then a break may not be possible.

Are There Side Effects Of The Combination Approach To Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy

When it comes to early stages of disease, patients very frequently do well with either brachytherapy or external beam radiation. Success rates of around 90% or higher can be achieved with either approach. When the disease is somewhat more advanced based on the PSA level, Gleason score, extent of visible disease on magnetic resonance imaging we have learned over the years that higher doses of radiation are critical to achieving better results. Some evidence, including a large trial, suggests that for patients with intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer, a combined approach using brachytherapy along with external beam radiation may be best compared to standard dose external beam radiation therapy alone.

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Risk From Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure

Ultraviolet radiation is a natural part of solar radiation, and is released by black lights, tanning beds, and electric arc lighting. Normal everyday levels of UV radiation can be helpful, and produce vitamin D. The World Health Organization recommends 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure 2 to 3 times a week to get enough vitamin D.

Too much UV radiation can cause skin burns, premature aging of the skin, eye damage, and skin cancer. The majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Tanning through the use of tanning beds and tanning devices exposes the consumer to UV radiation. Exposure to tanning beds and tanning devices also increases the chance of developing skin cancer.

For more information on UV radiation and your health, click here

Will Radiation Treatment Make Me Radioactive


For external radiation treatment, you will not be radioactive.

It is safe to be with your children, family/whnau and friends throughout the treatment and afterwards.

For internal radiation treatment, where a radioactive source is put inside your body, you will need to take extra care.

If the source is temporary, you will only be radioactive when it is in your body. This is all done in the hospital.

If the source is not removed or permanent, you will be radioactive for a short time.

People won’t be able to see you’re radioactive. It is important to follow your treatment team’s safety instructions.

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Faq: Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer

Why would I choose radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy, including external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy, is an alternative form of treatment for prostate cancer. EBRT may be used after other treatments, such as surgery, to manage cancer that has recurred or is at high risk of recurrence. Radiation therapy has an excellent record of success, providing long-term disease control and survival rates equivalent to other treatments, including surgery.

How should I expect to feel during radiation therapy?

Undergoing external beam radiation therapy is similar to having a routine X-ray. Radiation cannot be seen, smelled or felt. Generally, side effects don’t appear until the second or third week of treatment. Because radiation therapy is a local treatment, only the areas of the body where it is directed will experience side effects. Most patients will experience some or all of the following:

  • Increase in the frequency of urination
  • Urinary urgency
  • Softer and smaller volume bowel movements
  • Increased frequency of bowel movements
  • Worsening of hemorrhoids or rectal irritation with occasional scant blood and fatigue

Many questions may arise during radiation therapy treatment. Your doctors will be available to answer questions throughout your treatment.

How should I expect to feel after radiation therapy?

What Are The Types Of Radiation Therapy

External radiation therapy
External radiation therapy is given from a special machine . The patient never becomes radioactive.
Internal radiation therapy
Internal radiation therapy is when the source of radiation is placed inside the body near the cancer cells. The length of time the implant is in place depends upon the type of implant received.

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Responsibilities Of The Patient And Family

To avoid delays in treatment and potential problems, the patient and family also have several responsibilities. The first is to provide the radiation oncologist with an accurate and detailed medical history, medication list, and allergy list. If the patient has received any treatments for cancer in the past, including radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, or immunotherapy, it is important to provide the radiation oncologist with the name, address, and phone number of the appropriate physician. Delays in obtaining outside records can delay the start of treatment.

The second responsibility is a commitment to the treatment plan. This includes arriving on time for appointments, not removing the marks on the skin, and reporting side effects or other problems that the patient may experience. The earlier that a new problem is identified, the sooner it can be managed and, we hope, solved. This includes problems with insurance, housing, transportation, or employment in addition to physical side effects related to the treatment. It is also important to try to follow recommendations for taking medications and nutritional supplements. Following these recommendations can help avoid a break in the treatment course, which can have a negative impact on the desired outcome.

What Does Your Treatment Response Mean

What is radiation?

Your doctor might use one of these words to describe how your cancer acts after treatment.

A partial response or partial remission means your tumor shrank by at least 50%, but it’s still there.

A complete response or complete remission means your cancer can’t be measured on any test. This may — but doesn’t always — mean you’re cured. You can still have cancer that’s too small for tests to find.

Stable means your cancer has stayed the same. It hasn’t gotten worse or better.

Progression means your cancer has grown or spread. You may need to switch treatments to control it.

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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:

How Can I Make A Donation To The Department Of Radiation Oncology

Thank you for your interest in contributing to the Department of Radiation Oncology at Boston Medical Center. Philanthropic support is needed to further the Department of Radiation Oncologyâs mission to provide exceptional care without exception to all of our patients and to further our clinical research activities, which focus on investigating treatment methods to improve outcomes. If you wish to submit a donation to the department, please visit our secure website, select Other under designation, and write âRadiation Oncologyâ in the new field. Your personal commitment to support the departments research initiatives with a tax-deductible gift will play an important role as the department moves forward with its critical work to bring forth breakthrough contributions benefiting patients battling cancer.

Boston Medical Center is a 501 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. to submit a donation.

Boston Medical Center is a 514-bed academic medical center located in Bostonâs historic South End, providing medical care for infants, children, teens and adults.

One Boston Medical Center Place Boston, MA 02118

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Does Radiotherapy Make You Radioactive

External radiotherapy doesn’t make you radioactive, as the radiation passes through your body. However, the radiation emitted by internal brachytherapy radioactive implants can be dangerous to other people while the implant is in place.

You should discuss any safety concerns you have with your care team.

How Soon Might I Have Side Effects From Radiation Therapy


There are two kinds of radiation side effects: early and late. Early side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, usually donât last long. They may start during or right after treatment and last for several weeks after it ends, but then they get better. Late side effects, such as lung or heart problems, may take years to show up and are often permanent when they do.

The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin problems. You might get others, such as hair loss and nausea, depending on where you get radiation.

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What Happens After Treatment

With internal radiation therapy, youll typically go home after a short recovery the same day. Occasionally, you may need to stay in the hospital while your body sheds trace amounts of radiation. After systemic radiation therapy, you may secrete small amounts of radiation through body fluids, like sweat, pee and blood.

If you receive IV or permanent internal radiation therapy, theres a small risk of exposing others to radiation. Follow your radiation therapy teams guidance about how much contact you should have with others after radiotherapy.

You should be able to go about your regular daily activities before and after EBRT. Theres no risk of exposing others to radiation.

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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How Will I Know The Treatment Has Worked

After treatment finishes, you will have regular check-ups with your doctor. You will have a physical examination, and you may have scans or tests to check whether the cancer has responded to treatment. It may take some time after your radiation therapy treatment has finished before the full benefit is known.

Your medical team won’t be able to give you progress updates during treatment because cancer cells continue to die for weeks or months after treatment ends. They can, however, help you manage any side effects.

If radiation therapy is given as palliative treatment, the relief of symptoms will indicate that the treatment has worked. This may take a few days or weeks.

What Happens Before Radiation Therapy

How does Hawking Radiation REALLY work?

For internal radiation therapy, you may need a physical exam and imaging. Your radiation oncologist will explain how you can prepare for the day of the procedure based on how youll receive the radiation.

External beam radiation therapy involves a planning appointment called a simulation. Simulation is the treatment planning step that customizes your treatment.

Simulation involves:

  • Getting in position. Youre positioned on a table exactly as you will be during treatment sessions. Your radiation therapy team may use a mold or mask to hold your body in place. Theyll ensure your alignment is correct. You may get temporary or permanent markings that show which body parts should receive the radiation.
  • Getting scans. Youll receive a CT scan or an MRI that shows the tumors location. This information will help your care team customize X-rays that target a tumor while sparing healthy tissue.

Simulation allows your radiation oncologist to determine your radiation dosage and how youll receive it.

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Radiation Therapy

The advantages of radiation therapy include:

  • death of a large proportion of cancer cells within the entire tumor
  • death of microscopic disease at the periphery of the tumor that would not be visible to the naked eye
  • ability to shrink tumors
  • relative safety for the patient
  • synergy with systemic therapy
  • organ preservation (e.g. not removing a breast, larynx, or part of the gastrointestinal tract, which would have significant negative impact on a patients quality of life
  • possible stimulation of an immune response against the tumor

The disadvantages of radiation therapy include:

  • damage to surrounding tissues , depending on how close the area of interest is located to the tumor
  • inability to kill tumor cells that cannot be seen on imaging scans and are therefore not always included on the 3D models of radiation planning
  • inability to kill the all cancer cells in tumors
  • inability to relieve mass effect in certain parts of the body , thereby requiring surgery
  • poor killing of cancer cells in areas that do not have a good supply of oxygen
  • increased incidence in wound complication and poor healing
  • inconvenience of radiation therapy
  • contraindications to radiation therapy

What Happens During Radiation Therapy

Internal radiation therapy usually happens in a special outpatient treatment room or in a hospital. Your radiation oncologist may insert the radiation implant using a small flexible tube called a catheter. For this treatment, youll receive anesthesia so you dont feel pain or discomfort during the procedure. With the systemic form of internal radiation therapy, youll receive radioactive fluid through an IV.

With EBRT, you lie on a table, positioned as during simulation. The radiation machine moves around you but never touches you. A healthcare provider called a radiation therapist operates the machine from a separate room. You can speak to each other at any time using an intercom. The machine directs precise doses of radiation toward the tumor as it shifts positions. You wont feel anything during treatment.

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Questions To Ask The Health Care Team

Consider asking the health care team these questions about your radiation therapy appointments:

  • Who is creating my radiation therapy treatment plan? How often will the plan be reviewed?

  • Which health care professionals will I see at every treatment session?

  • Can you describe what my first session, or simulation, will be like?

  • Will I need any tests or scans before treatment begins?

  • Will my skin be marked as part of treatment planning?

  • Will I need an immobilization device during radiation therapy? If so, can you describe that to me?

  • Who can I talk with if I’m feeling anxious or upset about having this type of treatment?

  • How long will each treatment session take? How often will I have radiation therapy?

  • Can I bring someone with me to each session?

  • Are there special services for patients receiving daily radiation therapy, such as certain parking spaces or parking rates?

  • Who should I talk with about any side effects I experience?

  • Which lotions do you recommend for skin-related side effects? When should I apply it?

  • How else can I take care of myself during the treatment period?

  • Will special precautions be needed to protect my family and others from radiation exposure during my treatment period?

  • What will my follow-up care schedule be?

What Happens After Treatment Finishes

Danger RF Radiation Hazard Area Safety Notice Signs For Work Place ...

After radiation therapy has finished, your treatment team will tell you how to look after the treatment area and recommend ways to manage side effects. They will also advise who to call if you have any concerns.

Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.

Some people say that they feel pressure to return to normal life. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.

Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.

For more on this, see Living well after cancer.

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Radiation Therapy Combined With Surgery

When radiation is combined with surgery, the radiation treatments may be given before or after surgery. When it is done before surgery it is used to shrink the size of a tumor to make removal easier. More commonly the radiation treatments are given after surgery to reduce the chance that the cancer will come back, among other reasons.

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Why People With Cancer Receive Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer and ease cancer symptoms.

When used to treat cancer, radiation therapy can cure cancer, prevent it from returning, or stop or slow its growth.

When treatments are used to ease symptoms, they are known as palliative treatments. External beam radiation may shrink tumors to treat pain and other problems caused by the tumor, such as trouble breathing or loss of bowel and bladder control. Pain from cancer that has spread to the bone can be treated with systemic radiation therapy drugs called radiopharmaceuticals.

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