Radiotherapy and radiation therapy can effectively kill and stop the growth of malignant or cancerous cells by using the ionising radiation. Equipment by the name “Linear Accelerator” is used for radiotherapy treatment and can treat cancerous cells that are localised to a given area of the body. Radiation therapy at some of the best cancer hospitals in India may also be used along with chemotherapy or maybe an adjuvant therapy for preventing the recurrence of tumours.  

How does Radiation therapy work?

Radiation therapy works by damaging and destroying the genetic composition or gene/chromosome material of the cancerous cells thereby stopping them from further division and growth. Radiation therapy may also kill or harm certain healthy cells that are in close vicinity to the cancerous cells. Still, the aim of the therapy is to kill all the cancerous cells while harming the least of the healthy cells.

Instances and cases when Radiation therapy is used

An oncologist doctor may suggest Radiation therapy in below-given situations.

  • As a neo-adjuvant therapy for shrinking a cancerous tumour.

  • As the primary or the only treatment method for cancer.

  • As an adjuvant therapy for killing or stopping the growth of any cancer cells remaining in the body, post-surgery.

  • In combination with chemotherapy or any other method of cancer treatment.

Risk and side effects

While some people may not face any risk or side effect of cancer therapy through radiations some may have many. The amount or extent of radiation used for the therapy and the part of the body that has been exposed to the radiation may have an impact on the side effects it may cause. For instance, if Radiation therapy has treated the neck or the head region, symptoms like a sore throat, tooth decay, nausea and dry mouth among others may occur. If the abdomen region or area has been targeted by radiations, symptoms including diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea may occur.  Most of the side effects of Radiation therapy are temporary and often do not hold for long term. These side effects may go away after some time of therapy.

Radiation simulation

It is important that the patient lies still during the radiation treatment, as the radiations should not be targeted against any other part of the body except the cancerous region or cells. Restraints and cushions may be used to help you lay in the right position and for holding you still during the period of radiation emittance and therapy. CT scan or Computerized Tomography is done to know the body areas that required the radiation treatment.

What to expect?

A linear accelerator is used for providing the Radiation therapy and this machine is capable of directing the high energy radiation beans direct into the affected body area. While the patient lies on the required platform or table, the accelerator moves to direct the radiation into the affected region from several different angles. In most cases, the patient is treated as an outpatient and get the Radiation therapy 5 days every week, for a given period of weeks or months. The gaps between the radiation sessions allow the healthy cells to recover.

A typical radiation session for oncology treatment may span over a period of 10 minutes to a maximum of 30 minutes. Usually, the patient, the radiation team, and the oncologist doctor/cancer specialist are in different rooms and you can talk to each other as audio connections are available. But the patient only talks to the team when he feels uncomfortable.

Entirely painless, the Radiation therapy can treat cancer earlier than other kinds of treatments. A leading oncology hospital is the ideal place and can provide to you world-class treatment for cancer under the guidance of expert radiation oncologist.