Radiotherapy: Uses, Types, Procedure, Side Effects & Cost of Radiotherapy in Delhi NCR & Ghaziabad
Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy, is a cancer treatment in which high-energy beams are used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The radiation helps in slowing the growth of cancer cells by damaging their DNA.
This blog will help you to know about radiotherapy, its types as well as the procedures followed during radiotherapy along with its uses, costs, and side effects.
Types of Radiotherapy
Various factors decide what type of radiotherapy you may require:
- Cancer type
- Tumor size and its location in the body
- Your general health, medical condition, and age
- The closeness of tumor with the normal tissues which may get affected by radiation
Depending on these factors, the doctor will recommend the type of radiotherapy you will need.
There are two types of radiotherapy – External Beam Radiation therapy and Internal Radiation therapy.
External Beam Radiation therapy
External Beam Radiation therapy is done by the help of a machine outside the body that targets the high-energy beam where the cancer is. The machine is movable so that the part of the body having cancer can be targeted through many directions.
This therapy is a local treatment as it treats only a specific part of the body. It is also known as teletherapy.
Internal Radiation therapy
In Internal Radiation therapy, a source of radiation is generally implanted inside your body. The source can either be solid or liquid.
When a source of radiation is solid, the internal radiation therapy is called brachytherapy. It may be in the shape of seeds, capsules, wire or ribbons, containing the source of radiation implanted in your body or near the tumor. Brachytherapy treats only a specific part of the body.
When the source of radiation is liquid, the internal radiation therapy is called systemic therapy. In this treatment, the source of radiation is implanted into the blood through a vein via injection or intravenous lines. The source travels in the blood throughout the body searching for cancer cells and destroying them.
Radiation Therapy Procedure
The doctor will examine, ask about your medical history and discuss the therapy. The treatment will be planned and you will be guided by a radiation oncologist and therapist in case of external beam radiation therapy. The therapist may put a mark on your skin where the energy beams have to be targeted. In case you are receiving radiation therapy on the head or neck, you may require a face mask so that the head is in right position during treatment.
During external beam radiation, you will be asked to lie on a table beneath a machine while the radiation therapist will help you to take the right position beneath the machine. After this is done, the therapist will go to a separate room and the speaker system in the room will help you communicate with the therapist. You will have to stay still during the treatment without holding your breath while the machine will make certain noises.
During brachytherapy, the health professionals will use a tube known as a catheter or a larger object known as an applicator to insert the radioactive implant. The doctor will position the radiation source inside the catheter or applicator once it is in the required part of the body.
The doctor may remove the implant after a few days allowing it to remain in the body or the implant may be placed only for a shorter period of time, such as 10 to 20 minutes, repeating the treatment from time to time for several weeks. The doctor will remove the catheter or applicator after the course of treatment is completed. The implant may also be left permanently in the body in some cases although it will stop emitting radiation after some time.
Uses of Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy not only helps in treating cancer but also helps in preventing the cancer from returning. It slows down the growth of cancer and helps in stopping the cancer. Palliative treatments are done by using radiotherapy to ease cancer symptoms such as pain, breathing problems, difficulty in swallowing and bowel blockages.
External beam radiation may reduce the tumor to treat pain and other problems such as loss of bowel and bladder control. Systemic radiation therapy drugs, known as radiopharmaceuticals, treat the pain caused from the cancer that has spread to the bone.
Adjuvant treatment is done by doctors using radiotherapy alongside other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. Radiotherapy may be received before surgery by some patients to reduce the tumor so that it may be easily removed while some patients may receive the radiotherapy after surgery in order to kill those cancer cells which may have survived even after the surgery.
What types of cancers are treated through Radiotherapy?
- Cancers such as breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer may be treated through External Beam Radiation.
- Cancers in certain body parts such as cervix, vagina, uterus, head and neck and eye may be treated by Brachytherapy.
- Certain types of thyroid cancers are treated by Systemic Radiation therapy. This therapy is also used to treat advanced prostate cancer or gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (GEP NET).
What are the side effects of radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy causes harm to cancer cells but it may also be harmful for other healthy cells nearby the cancer cells, causing side effects in the body. Side effects may be different for everyone, ranging from mild to severe ones, depending on the type and amount of radiation one receives and the part of the body that receives treatment.
Based on the time the side effects occur, they may be categorized into two kinds: early and late side effects. Early side effects may occur while the treatment is in process or right after the treatment and last for few months eventually getting better. Effects such as nausea, fatigue and skin problems are common early side effects. Late side effects may occur years after the treatment is done but are generally permanent in nature. Effects such as lung or heart problems are late side effects. Research shows that radiation treatment for one cancer may raise the risk for having a different cancer later. Factors that may affect the risk of having another cancer include how much and which area was the radiation in, used for treatment. Radiotherapy may also cause fertility and sexual issues. Consult your doctor about all the possible threats of radiotherapy and compare those with the benefits you are going to have from it.
What is the cost of radiotherapy in Delhi NCR & Ghaziabad?
Cost of Radiotherapy in Delhi NCR & Ghaziabad- Radiotherapy may be expensive as it involves heavy machines and services of healthcare professionals. The type of radiotherapy you receive and the number of treatments you need will decide the cost of radiotherapy.