According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 10 million people died globally due to cancer in 2020. The global number of cancer patients also rose to 19.3 million. But there is still some positive news.
There has been substantial progress towards cancer treatment in the past few decades. Early detection of cancer and various treatment methods like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and hormonal therapy have made many cancers curable.
Rapid advances in imaging technologies, X-rays, computer-aided planning systems, and radiation machines have largely contributed to radiation therapy’s progress. It contributes about 40 per cent towards curative cancer treatment.
According to the trusted platforms like targetingcancer.com.au, radiation therapy can effectively treat breast, bladder, liver, head and neck, pancreatic and many other malicious cancers.
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy involves high-energy radiation, also known as ionising radiation, as it forms ions (electrically charged particles). These ions deposit energy in the tissue cells they pass through, killing the cancer cells. They also cause genetic changes in the cells, due to which they can’t proliferate and eventually die.
There are chances that the radiation can affect the healthy cells if they are very close to the cancerous cells. But healthy cells are capable of repairing themselves and retain their normal functions, unlike cancer cells.
Radiation therapy can be used for curing cancer and as a palliative treatment to relieve the symptoms caused by cancer. It can be implemented alone or in combination with other treatment methods like surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Radiation can help shrink the tumour before the surgery, while after surgery, it can help destroy the microscopic tumour cells that could have been left behind.
There are two methods to direct radiation to the location of cancer: external beam radiation and internal radiation or brachytherapy.
What Can You Expect From The Treatment?
External beam radiation- In this treatment, high-energy rays are delivered to the location of cancer/tumour from outside the body through a linear accelerator machine. You will have to lie on a table still where the machine moves to deliver radiation. It is usually performed five days a week, leaving the weekends for the recovery of healthy cells. The session usually lasts 20 minutes. In many cases, it can be used to relieve pain and other symptoms of advanced cancers.
Internal radiation or brachytherapy– This treatment is delivered by placing a radioactive implant sealed in catheters or seed near the tumour or cancer site. The implant placement is painless and permanent or temporary, depending upon the treatment or cancer type. It allows for higher doses of radiation in a smaller area compared to external radiation. The implant procedure is done at the hospital, and the duration for which it has to be left inside the body depends on the type of brachytherapy you are advised.
The type of treatment that you need will depend upon the diagnosis by a radio oncologist. They can work with his specialised team to find out a treatment plan for you. So, if you are considering radiation therapy, you must visit a qualified and experienced radio oncologist.