Radiation therapy in oncologyRadiation therapy to treat a disease uses ionizing radiation, as a rule - X-rays. They were discovered in 1895, and have since been used in medicine for diagnosis and treatment.

What is radiation therapy?

Currently, doctors have much experience in the application of radiotherapy. 4 out of 10 people diagnosed with cancer (40%) to receive radiotherapy as part of treatment. Distinguish its several forms:

  1. External beam radiotherapy where the radiation enters from the outside by a Linac electron least - protons.
  2. Internal radiotherapy. It can be ingested in a liquid, and is absorbed by cancer cells. Alternatively, the radioactive material is placed into the tumor or into the region next to it.

The operating principle of radiation therapy in oncology

Radiotherapy destroys cancer cells in the treated area, damaging the DNA within them. Although irradiation in cancer also affects healthy cells, they, unlike malignant have greater ability to heal itself.

The problem of radiation therapy

For each patient developed an individual treatment plan. The goal - to provide a high dose of radiation, and low tumor - surrounding healthy tissue. Healthy cells are able to recover after treatment. Thus, the problem of treatment - to maximize the likelihood of cure, while reducing the risk ofside effects .

Let us consider, as radiotherapy used in the treatment of malignant diseases.

Radical radiotherapy in oncology

The doctor may recommend radiation therapy to destroy tumor formation and to save people from disease. This is one of the most important procedures that will help to cure the disease. Doctors may call it radical radiotherapy. The length of the course of treatment due to the localization of the tumor, its type and quantity. In addition to this type of therapy may apply other - surgery, cytostatics treatment, hormone therapy or targeted therapy.

What is radiation therapy to control symptoms?

Radiotherapy may be recommended for the relief of symptoms, for example, to reduce the pain. This is called palliative care. Treatment can last for one day or more.

Radiotherapy prior to surgery

In some cases, radiation therapy administered prior to surgery to reduce the size tumors that provide a safe and easy removal. It will also help reduce the risk of the spread of cancer cells during surgery. This type of treatment is often used for certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. Also it is called neoadjuvant or preoperative radiotherapy. At the same time as the irradiation can be carried out chemotherapy.

Radiotherapy after surgery

Irradiation of cancer may be given after surgery to remove the body of surviving cancer cells - or postoperative adjuvant therapy. Such treatment reduces the likelihood of a return of the disease. It is often used in malignant breast disease, colorectal, head and neck.

Radiotherapy and anticancer drugs

Cytotoxic agents can assign up to, during or after a course of irradiation in cancer. Such joint use of these treatments is called chemoradiation. Together with radiotherapy may also assign targeted therapy.

Full-body irradiation

This type of treatment prescribed to patients when it is planned bone marrow or stem cells, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

Together with the chemotherapy is carried out total body irradiation that destroys the bone marrow cells. Then performed a transplant of stem cells or bone marrow from a donor or the patient.

Where radiation therapy?

External radiation therapy is performed, usually on an outpatient basis, in the radiotherapy department of the Cancer Center.

Specialized equipment takes up little space and requires specially trained staff. There are different types of linear accelerators. Choice for a particular patient is performed Clinical Oncology.

The procedure itself radiotherapy usually does not last more than a few minutes a day. However, it takes time, so that the patient has taken the exact position. Before therapy, or during it can be carried out X-ray or scan, to make sure that the radiation will be directed to the desired area.

Home of the internal radiation therapy?

There are two main types of internal radiotherapy - using radioactive implants and radioactive liquids.

radioactive implants

Oncologist accommodates radioactive source within the patient's body - in the tumor cavity or area situated next to it. The source may be a radioactive material is sealed in a small metal tube or wire, or small "seeds". If the recommended implant treatment, most of this will take place in a day hospital and will take a few hours. Or, you may have to stay in the hospital in a single room for a few days with the implant. The patient will have to remain in the House alone, not to expose others to radiation. After removing he ceases to be the source of radioactive.

Some types of radioactive "seeds" are left in the body for a long time, because they provide radiation in a small area, and after a while lose it. Sometimes doctors use this type of treatment in the early stages of prostate cancer.

radioactive liquids

Treatment of certain tumors by using radioactive liquid. This may be a beverage or intravenous injection. The fluid circulates in the bloodstream and is absorbed by tumor cells. In some types of cancer, the doctor inserts a radioactive liquid to a specific part of the body to the tumor, rather than intravenously.

After some kinds of such treatment requires hospitalization in a single room for a few days. During this time, the level of radioactivity decreases to safe. This treatment is used in the diagnosis - cancer of the thyroid gland or tumor process, which had metastasized to the bone.

In some types of internal radiotherapy dose of radiation is so small that after the treatment you can immediately go home.

Who conducts radiation therapy?

In the United States, Israel and some other countries, experts on the treatment referred to radiation oncology. In the past, I used the term - radiotherapist. In the UK, a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other medical methods is called Clinical Oncology.

team of doctors

The patient works with a multidisciplinary team - surgeon, radiation oncologists, radiologists (specialized in the interpretation of medical images), pathologists, nurses, physiotherapists and other specialists.

During radiation therapy radiation oncologist plans, monitors and prescribes treatment. With the rest of the team interacts patient throughout the course of treatment.

in radiology Specialists

Doctors who prescribe and planning radiotherapy, interact with scientists specializing in the field of Radiology - Medical Physics. They help to ensure that the equipment for radiation therapy - accurately and safely. They also provide advice on the following issues:

  • What a way to assign exposure.
  • How much should last procedure to obtain the correct radiation dose.

Other personnel involved in the application and planning of radiation therapy under the supervision of medical physicists, may be physicist. The patient may interact with the physicist during internal radiotherapy.

radiation oncology

Radiation oncologists work with linear accelerators, which provide exposure. They are well trained in radiation therapy in the care of patients and working with other experts and medical physicists.

With radiation oncology patient will interact in the process of radiotherapy. They advise and assist if necessary. Advise on how to better cope with any side effects.

With the nursing staff, patients communicate about drugs, bandages, information on how to cope with the adverse effects of treatment as well.

Questions that you can ask your doctor about radiotherapy:

  1. Why in my case is assigned to radiation?
  2. What type of radiation therapy will be used?
  3. Will this be the only treatment or other therapies will be used?
  4. This therapy aims to cure or relief of symptoms of the disease?
  5. What is the treatment plan?
  6. How many treatment sessions will it take?
  7. As the therapy will last a long time?
  8. Where it will need to be treated?
  9. You need whether therapy in the future?
  10. What are the possible side effects?
  11. Where can I get more information on radiation therapy?
  12. Is it possible to live somewhere during treatment, if it is too far to get to the hospital?

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