Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is a treatment used for cancer and in some cases for the treatment of thyroid disease, blood disorders and non-cancerous growths.
It can have targeted effects in tumours that are confined to a specific area. This approach to cancer treatment involves delivering powerful waves of energy to disrupt the ability of cancer cells to grow and divide ,killing cancer cells , slowing their growth and shrinking tumors to make it possible to carry out a surgical operation.
The form of radiation used in cancer therapy is a high energy type known as ionising to radiation. It is a complex method and as such it has to be simulated first before the actual treatment is carried out . Approximately, 60 percent of cancer patients undergoing treatment in the USA have to undergo Radiotherapy. There are two types of radiation therapy :
1.The external beam radiation therapy in which the beam of radiation is focused onto the treatment area by an external machine.
2.The internal radiation therapy such as brachytherapy in which a radioactive substance is placed in or close to bother cancerous tissue in a temporary or permanent implant
Unfortunately, Radiotherapy as a form of cancer treatment comes with a heavy price on the patient; the side effects can be difficult to bear. The side effects occur because the healthy tissue near the affected area is affected as well as the cancerous tissue. Most side effects are localised to the area of treated,however, they can also spread to the rest of body.
The side effects vary based on the part of the body being treated, the overall health of the person receiving the Radiotherapy and the type and dose of radiation. The side effects fall under two categories: Short term and Long term. The short term effects include:-
1. Fatigue or lethargy; the patient feels tired all the time and has no energy to execute even simple tasks.
2.Skin irritation is another short term side effect and includes swelling, blisters and sun burned or tanned appearance.
3.Hair loss ,urinary problems, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
4.Tissue inflammation such as esophagitis, pneumonitis and hepatitis.
5. A drop in the number of white blood cells hence further compromising the patient's immunity
The long term effects include:
*Stiffening and restricted movement. After neck therapy for instance , the jaw can stiffen. This occurs as a result of tissue scarring.
*Skin effects; These include delayed wound healing and a spidery red or purple appearance caused by dilated capillary blood vessels.
* Diarrhoea and bleeding;These can occur as a result of bowel damage when the abdomen receives Radiotherapy
*Hormone problems. This can include hypopituitarism or hypothyroidism,dry mouth , memory loss and infertility
Above all , Radiotherapy could also lead to a second cancer due to the radiation exposure. Soft tissue sarcoma for instance can be caused by high doses of radiation. The risk of recurrence of the cancer being treated is higher than the risk of a new cancer being caused by Radiotherapy.
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Disclaimer: the principles contained here is not designed nor meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is only achieved for educational confidences only. You should recognise full responsibility for the way you decide on to use this information.
Tags: Cancer, Cancer Survivors, Cancer Warriors.
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