Cancer has become increasingly common phenomenon these days, with advent of better diagnostics, awareness and changes in environment. The cause of cancer is multi factorial and varies from various types of cancer, for eg. smoking is associated with at least ten types of cancer the strongest and clear cut association being for lung cancer. Similarly, HPV virus is associated in cervical and oral cancers. The new era is herald by rapid advancements in technology and understanding of the tumor biology with development of more targeted therapies.
What Is Radiotherapy ?
Since the discovery of x-rays over one hundred years ago, radiation has been used more and more in medicine, both to help with diagnosis (by taking pictures with x-rays), and as a treatment (radiotherapy). While radiation obviously has to be used very carefully, doctors and radiographers have a lot of experience in its use in medicine.
Many people with cancer will have radiotherapy as part of their treatment. This can be given either as external radiotherapy| from outside the body using x-rays or from within the body as internal radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy works by destroying the cancer cells in the treated area. Although normal cells can also be damaged by the radiotherapy, they can usually repair themselves.
Radiotherapy treatment can cure some cancers and can also reduce the chance of a cancer coming back after surgery. It may be used to reduce cancer symptoms.
Some people find that the side effects are very mild and that they just feel tired during their course of radiotherapy treatment.
Types Of Radiotherapy Treatment : -
There Are Two Main Types Of Radiotherapy Treatment : –
- External Radiotherapy
- Internal Radiotherapy
List of Radiotherapy Treatments offered in India
- Radiation Therapy
- Gamma Knife
External radiotherapy is where a machine is used to give a dose of energy, such as X-rays, to attack the cancer cells. There are different types of radiotherapy machines, which work in slightly different ways. For a session of radiotherapy you will be asked to sit or lie in a position that allows the energy beam to be directed accurately at the cancer. This may involve lying down while the machine rotates around you, or you may be asked to sit in a chair while the beam is directed at a cancer that is near the surface of your skin (also called superficial cancer).
The machine looks like an X-ray machine. It won’t touch you and you won’t feel any pain during the treatment. The number and duration of the radiotherapy sessions depends on the type of cancer and where it’s located in your body. A superficial skin cancer may need only a few short treatments, whereas a cancer deeper in the body may need more prolonged treatment.
People usually have external radiotherapy in small doses – each dose is called a fraction – usually from Monday to Friday so your normal tissue has a chance to recover from the treatment at the weekend. Radiotherapy won’t make you become radioactive during the treatment. You will be able to carry on with many of your normal daily activities. However, you may feel tired during and after your treatment so it’s a good idea to ask friends and family for help if you need it.
Internal radiotherapy is where the source of radioactivity is put inside your body so it can get closer to the cancer.