Effects of Radiotherapy for Cancer

Effects of Radiotherapy for Cancer

A radiotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses radiation, high-energy rays, or particles to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.

This treatment works by damaging the DNA inside the cancer cells and killing them off. As you know, All living things need DNA to grow and multiply.

Followings effects might occur during radiotherapy:

· Pain if your bladder or bowel are being targeted for radiotherapy

·Fatigue as some daily activities will find more difficult as you recover from the treatment

· The treatment itself may damage hair loss as some hair follicles.

Following side effects after radiotherapy:

· Nausea/vomiting due to effect on inner ear causing balance problems or because of the effects on your digestive system

·Diarrhea.  This can develop after radiotherapy to your bowel, rectum, prostate, or vagina

· The treatment itself may damage hair loss as some hair follicles.

· Stomach pain and mouth ulcers. If this occurs, you will probably need medication to relieve it

So overall, I think radiotherapy is much better than chemotherapy, so both should be used for cancer, but it’s up to the doctors only what they choose for their patients.

long term side effects of radiotherapy:

radiotherapy can cause several side effects, depending on the area of the body that is treated. Patients receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancer may experience fatigue, dry mouth, taste changes, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness/loss of voice, skin changes (dryness or redness), memory problems, or mood swings.

Radiotherapy to the pelvis can cause diarrhea-like symptoms with abdominal pain.

People receiving treatment to their abdomen can develop nausea and vomiting, inflammation in their bladder (cystitis), and blood in their urine. Treatment of tumors near reproductive organs may cause fertility issues.

Radiotherapy’s most common side effects are fatigue, skin changes, hair loss, and feeling tired. However, these side-effects can be reduced by new technologies that have been developed specifically to reduce the dose to the surrounding healthy tissue. A significant proportion of patients develop new breast cancer within ten years after completing radiotherapy for their primary cancer. (See also late effects of radiation)

Side effects from low-dose radiation are infrequent. These are known as “low dose long term” products because they do not occur immediately but instead years later. This especially applies to CAT scans which involve more ionizing radiation than standard x-rays or CT scans with IV dye (see iodinated contrast vs. tomography scan).

It is estimated that 0.03%–0.14% of all cancers in the US are caused by medical imaging procedures each year, much lower than the number caused by medical radiation treatments for cancer (see comparative risk analysis).

Radiation therapy for cancer:

The effects of radiotherapy for cancer treatment are divided into two categories. The first includes acute side-effects, mainly skin erythema and fatigue, which occur in normal tissue at low doses (less than 1 gray or six centijoules).

The second category is the so-called “late effects,” which appear many years after the irradiation. These include radiation carcinogenesis and nonspecific late effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, etc. Radiation dermatitis usually heals within 4–6 weeks after cessation of therapy; however, it can take longer or may not heal entirely in some cases making intervention necessary to prevent scarring.

Skin changes depend on the amount of radiation received by the patient and other factors like skin pigmentation (ultraviolet-induced erythema) and the patient’s age. The more sun exposure, the worse the symptoms usually are; they present at different times depending on the total doses received.

They usually appear up to six months following treatment or less in some cases when higher doses have been delivered, although there have been reported cases where these symptoms appeared 15 years after treatment.

How to reduce side effects of radiation therapy:

All the side effects associated with radiotherapy treatment can be avoided or reduced using image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), which varies the radiation dose and its delivery to match precisely how much of the tumor is inside a therapeutic radiation field and how much is in the surrounding healthy tissue. IGRT ensures that only the intended portion of a patient receives high doses.

Radiation oncologists use many imaging tests to fit patients for their treatments. They use CT scans, MRI scans, PET scanners, or ultrasound to aim their treatments correctly. The more details doctors know about where your cancer sits, what organs it touches, and how healthy those organs are can help them deliver higher quality care at lower costs. This could mean fewer side effects, shorter hospital stays, and better long-term outcomes.

Cancer patients who receive certain types of radiation treatment for their tumors may develop leukemia or other cancers later in life. (See also late effects of radiation) Radiation can damage the white blood cells that help your body fight infections and diseases. The risk increases with the amount of radiation you receive.

Many people are concerned about side effects after they’ve had radiation treatment to combat cancer. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce your chances of developing them. (I’m not sure whether this is true, but it sounds like it makes sense.)

Radiation therapy has been used successfully to treat cancer since 1896 when Wilhelm Röntgen discovered that x-rays could treat cancer. To date, it is still a mainstay of anticancer treatment, although advances in molecular biology have given rise to targeted therapies that are often as effective as chemotherapy.

Types of radiotherapy:

Radiotherapy is sometimes given after surgical removal of cancer, called adjuvant radiation therapy or chemoradiotherapy. Chemotherapy may be given before radiotherapy to decrease the size of the tumor and reduce complications from treatment.

Generally speaking, radiation oncologists at least try local therapies first, if these are adequate for the type of cancer; only when they fail might more intensive treatments be used. Radiotherapy can induce cell death by interfering with cell division (the natural process by which a cell copies itself). It may cause permanent damage to cells in an area being treated, including damage to normal tissues that control a person’s organ function and fertility.

The higher doses may kill many cancerous cells much faster than lower doses. Partly, this is because lower doses take longer to kill cells, so they have more time to repair themselves. But partly because a more significant number of radiotherapy treatment sessions may be necessary with higher doses for the same effect as low doses – though even here, there will tend to be a dose-dependent optimum.

Radiation can damage or destroy living tissue and cells, causing acute and chronic adverse health effects. Its potential side effects include short-term reactions from exposure to radiation during treatment and long-term effects from radiation therapy over months or years after treatment has ended.

Radiation therapy side effects head and neck:

Dryness of the mouth. This is most likely to happen just after treatment. It can last from a few days up to several weeks. The risk of dry mouth is greater if you have had radiotherapy for tonsillar cancer, pharyngitis, or nasopharyngeal cancer.

This may not affect your enjoyment of food – but it may make it more challenging to talk and swallow comfortably. Try sucking sugar-free lollipops or sweets between meals, and avoid salty foods, which might make fluid loss worse by increasing your thirst. You could also try using a straw when drinking so that less saliva is swallowed (though this isn’t recommended if you’ve received head and neck treatments). Alternatively, ask your GP or dentist about using artificial saliva.

Dry or itchy skin, acne, itching (pruritus), curly hair (alopecia areata). These symptoms usually develop within a few weeks of starting radiotherapy. Try not to scratch the skin, as this increases the risk of infection (and see your doctor if you suspect any signs of infection such as reddened or oozing areas); if your scalp is dry, use moisturizing shampoo for some relief.

Wound healing problems can occur where surgery is combined with radiotherapy. And cosmetic side effects like thinning of the nails and changes in nail color may last several years after treatment has ended.

Radiation therapy side effects brain:

headaches Pain or stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper arms numbness of the fingers weight loss difficulty sleeping problems with attention span, concentration, and memory

Loss of appetite, mouth ulcers, skin pigmentation changes. Breathing may be affected – you might find it harder to catch your breath after exercise or feel smothered by a pillow while sleeping. You might also notice a change in emotion – for example, feeling irritable or tearful for no reason. These effects usually settle down after an initial period (usually between 1–3 weeks).

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