Radiation therapy is a way to treat cancer by killing cancer cells with high-energy x-rays or other particles. Most of the time, a radiation therapy regimen, or schedule, comprises a certain number of treatments that must be done over a certain amount of time. Understanding radiation therapy basics is essential to know what is included in the process, as this therapy can be used to treat every type of cancer. This article provides a general overview of this treatment, its different types, and why it is used to treat cancer.
How Does Radiation Therapy Treat Cancer?
All body cells grow, divide, and multiply in a cycle. This process happens faster in cancer cells than in normal cells. This treatment damages the DNA of these cells and thus stops them from growing or killing them.
The goals of this treatment depend on the type of cancer you have, whether or not it has spread, and how far it has spread. To understand radiation therapy, it is essential to know whether you can use this treatment independently or as part of a plan, including other treatments to treat the type of cancer you have. This treatment is used in some of the following ways:
One can treat many different kinds of cancer with this process. It is given to more than half of people with cancer. Some types of cancer can be cured with this treatment alone. Other kinds of cancer work best when more than one process is used. Radiation therapy can also treat cancer that comes back or has spread to other parts of the body.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Radiation Therapy?
External beam is the type of radiation therapy that is used most often. It sends x-rays into the body from a machine on the outside. If needed, it can be used to treat large parts of the body.
A linear accelerator or linac machine gives the radiation beam for x-ray or photon. The size of the beam is changed by computer software. This helps them point toward tumours and stay away from nearby healthy tissue.
There are different kinds of radiation therapy with an external beam:
Conformal Radiation Therapy In Three Dimensions (3D-CRT)
During this type of radiation therapy, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to make detailed 3D pictures of cancer. The technicians use these pictures to direct the beam. With this method, the medical team can use higher doses of x-rays without hurting healthy tissue or putting patients at risk. This lowers the chance of unwanted effects.
Brachytherapy may require a brief hospital stay to implant radiation sources into the body. The patient can resume their daily activities once they have been implanted. Patients may be required to follow specific simple radiation safety recommendations for a short time, depending on the type of brachytherapy performed, to ensure that other individuals are not exposed to the radiation.
This type of treatment is more complicated. With IMRT, one can change the number of x-rays needed. This is different from normal 3D-CRT, which uses the same amount of brightness for each beam. IMRT is better than 3D-CRT at targeting the tumour and staying away from healthy tissue.
Therapy With A Proton Beam
Instead of x-rays, protons are used in this process. A particle with a positive charge is called a proton. When protons are very powerful, they can kill harmful cells. The protons go to the tumour that is being treated and put a certain amount of radiation there. This treatment differs from x-ray beams because very few rays go outside the tumour and protect nearby tissue from getting hurt. Proton treatment is a relatively new type of treatment that needs special tools. It is only used to treat certain kinds of cancer right now.
Radiation therapy helps to treat cancer to a great extent. During this treatment, some people can work full-time or can only work part-time. You can work much or less depending on how you feel. Ask the doctor or nurse what you can expect from your treatment.
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