Radiation Therapy - Standard Treatment
for Cancer Patients
Sarasota Interventional Radiology
600 North Cattlemen Rd.
Sarasota, Florida 34232-6410
PHONE: (941) 234-0498
Radiation therapy uses high powered x-rays or radioactive seeds to kill cancer
Cancer cells grow rapidly and cause tumors in the body. Radiation therapy aims at
destroying these cancer cells which prevents their growth and spread in the body.
The types of radiation therapy are:
* External Radiation – In this method, the cancer patient is given radiation from a
machine that is present outside the body. This process does not require the
hospitalization of the patient.
* Internal Radiation or Brach therapy – In this method, small radioactive capsules
or tubes are placed inside the patient’s body. These deliver the radiotherapy to those
parts of the body that are affected by the cancer cells. This process requires
hospitalization of the patient.
* Systemic Radiation – In this method, the radioactive substance is injected into the
vein of the cancer patient. The substance then travels through the body of the patient
delivering the radiotherapy. This process requires hospitalization of the patient.
* Intra-Operative Radiation – In this method radiotherapy is given to the cancer
patients during a surgical procedure. Here, an external beam of radiation is aimed at the
area where cancer cells need to be destroyed. This process requires hospitalization of
Doctors are currently evaluating newer regimens that last even shorter amounts of
time. In one, large doses of radiation are given each day for five days. In another, called
Intraoperative Radiation Therapy or IORT, doctors give a single, large dose during
surgery. These newest treatments are still considered experimental, but according to
the American Cancer Society, doctors hope they will one day prove to be as effective as
Effects of Radiation: Radiation Side Effects
Radiation, whether for the purposes of healing or curing, does carry its risks and side
One of the major side effects of radiation therapy is fatigue. Patients end up feeling
extremely tired and worn out after the treatment procedure.
Hair loss is also a common effect of radiation therapy. Hair is lost over the areas of the
skin where radiation therapy is applied. This may also be followed by skin irritation.
The effects of radiation therapy to the head and neck area are known to cause dry
mouth, difficulty in swallowing, sore throat, ear aches, nausea, thickened saliva, sore
jaw and change in the taste of food.
Radiation therapy is an important and effective cancer treatment, but it's not benign.
There can be side effects; short-term or late complications of treatment. Done
incorrectly, radiation therapy can permanently damage surrounding organs and even be
life threatening. The risk of these injuries can be minimized with appropriate, state-of-
the-art radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy can have many side effects. These side effects depend on the part of
the body receiving radiation, the dose of radiation, and how often you have the therapy.
* Hair loss
* Skin pain
* Red, burning skin
* Shedding of the outer layer of skin (desquamation)
Radiation Therapy is in itself painless. Many low-dose palliative treatments (for
example, radiotherapy to bony metastases) cause minimal or no side effects. Treatment
to higher doses causes varying side effects during treatment (acute side effects), in the
months or years following treatment (long-term side effects), or after re-treatment
(cumulative side effects). The nature, severity, and longevity of side effects depends on
the organs that receive the radiation, the treatment itself (type of radiation, dose,
fractionation, concurrent chemotherapy), and the patient.
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