Radiation therapy, also known as irradiation, x-ray therapy, and radiotherapy, is one of the most common cancer treatment methods. Platforms like the TargetingCancer website give you more insights into radiation therapy’s efficacy to control cancer spread to other parts of the body.
What Is Meant by Radiation Therapy?
Cancer treatment involves destroying cancerous cells. X-rays, gamma rays, protons, or electron beams, in the form of high-energy particles are deployed to destroy cancerous cells. They prevent the cells from spreading to the other parts of the body. This process is commonly known as radiation therapy. Radiation creates small breaks in the DNA present in the cells, thus preventing them from dividing and multiplying rapidly.
Unlike other treatment forms like chemotherapy and oral and IV (intravenous) methods, radiation therapy is a localised treatment restricted to the affected area. The focus is on destroying cancerous cells without causing damage to the neighbouring healthy cells. Research indicates that a lot needs to be done in radiation oncology research in Australia.
Who Needs Radiation Therapy?
While all cancer patients need radiation therapy, some opt for other forms of treatment, which are considered an adjunct to radiation therapy. Your oncologist will decide whether radiation therapy is required or not, based on the type of cancer and the stage at which it is detected. Also, other health parameters need to be assessed before recommending radiation therapy.
With different types of cancer affecting different people, doctors may recommend radiation therapy for specific instances like:
Treating Early-Stage Cancer
Radiation therapy effectively shrinks cancerous growth or makes it disappear completely, as cancer is sensitive to this therapy. An oncologist may decide to administer chemotherapy and other anti-cancer drugs, followed by radiation therapy. In some instances, radiation therapy is deployed to shrink a tumour before surgery.
Preventing Recurrence of Cancer
Radiation therapy is also recommended post-surgery to prevent cancer recurrence, which usually spreads to the other parts of the body. Some cancerous cells may bypass MRIs and CT scans. To be on the safer side, doctors recommend radiation therapy to prevent cancer recurrence, which may grow into tumours if left untreated.
For instance, lung cancer may spread to the brain of the patient. Hence, as a precautionary and preventive treatment, doctors recommend radiation therapy for the brain.
Treating Advanced Cancer Symptoms
In some cases, cancer may have spread to many parts of the body, and this stage is challenging to cure. However, patients need not lose hope as doctors still recommend radiation therapy to shrink the tumours, considering their comfort.
Radiation therapy helps relieve severe pain caused by advanced stages and is one of the best methods recommended by the Targeting Cancer website to fight progressive cancer symptoms. Patients often report relief from advanced cancer symptoms like pain, trouble swallowing, breathlessness, irregular bowel movements, etc., after radiation therapy.
Treating Recurrent Cancer
A cancer patient runs the risk of the cancer returning (recurring), and radiation therapy is one of the most effective methods to treat recurring cancer symptoms. However, suppose cancer returns to the exact part that was affected. In that case, doctors may recommend radiation therapy based on the amount of radiation therapy deployed during the first treatment. Sometimes, radiation therapy may not be recommended, as it may prove ineffective.
Radiation therapy is recommended by oncologists depending on the type of cancer and its severity. However, radiation therapy is effective if the cancer is detected early and treated.