Radiation Therapy For Cancer

Radiation Therapy For Cancer

Using ionized energy to kill cells, radiation therapy is used by half of all patients to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells by damaging their genetic material beyond repair, causing them to breakdown and die. Both short- and long-term side effects, such as hair and memory loss, can occur when the therapy kills healthy cells. Different types of radiation exist. When a machine outside the body delivers it, it is called external-beam radiation therapy. If radioactive materials are placed inside the body, it is called internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy. You can also receive an injection of radioactive iodine, which travels through the body to kill cancer cells, a treatment called systemic radiation therapy. When cancer cant be cured, radiation therapy can be used to shrink tumors to make life more comfortable for a patient. Doctors may use radiation treatments alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cancer cells.

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    Radiation therapy can slow down or stop sperm cell production if the testicle is in or near the target area for the radiation. A lead shield can help protect the testicles during radiation aimed at a nearby organ such as the prostate.
    Total body irradiation used before some bone marrow transplants often causes permanent infertility.
    If the testicles get a mild dose of radiation, a man's fertility may drop but can then recover over the next one to four years. 
    If the radiation dose to the testicles is high, sperm production may stop forever. This happens because the spermatogonia are destroyed. These are the stem cells in the testicles that divide and grow to produce mature sperm.
    Radiation damage to the part of the brain that controls hormone production can sometimes prevent the hormone messages from getting to the testicles.
     
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    Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT or cone beam CT) involves the use of a CT scanner built into the linear accelerator. Images taken just prior to radiation treatment allow the radiation oncologist to correct any variation between intended and actual setup position. CT is anatomically more detailed than x-rays -- and sometimes cone beam CT is used instead of x-ray imaging when extreme precision of treatment is needed.
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    Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is a technologically advanced external beam radiation therapy that attacks a tumor site from many angles and with different doses, maximizing the dose to the tumor area while dodging nearby healthy tissue. With a smaller volume of tissue treated, adjacent organs such as the heart and lungs receive less radiation, reducing the risk of radiation injury. 
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    If you are going to get radiation therapy, it's important to speak with your doctor beforehand about the possible side effects so that you know what to expect. Potential side effects of radiation therapy for colon and rectal cancer can include:

    Skin irritation at the site where radiation beams were aimed
    Nausea
    Rectal irritation, which can cause diarrhea, painful bowel movements, or blood in the stool
    Bowel incontinence
    Bladder irritation, which can cause frequent urination, burning sensations while urinating, or blood in the urine
    Fatigue
    Sexual problems (impotence in men and vaginal irritation in women) Most side effects should lessen after treatments are completed, but problems such as rectal and bladder irritation may remain. Some degree of rectal and/or bladder irritation may be a permanent side effect. If you begin to notice these or other side effects, talk to your doctor right away so steps can be taken to reduce or relieve them.
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    Radiation (also called radiotherapy, x-ray therapy, or irradiation) for cancer treatment is administered at a hospital or treatment center in internal or external forms. Internal radiation requires a radioactive substance sealed in a container to be implanted into a tumor or body cavity. Sometimes an unsealed source is used and is taken orally or by injection. External radiation requires a machine that will direct high-energy rays at the tumor and surrounding area.

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    External beam therapy is a method for targeting and delivering a beam of high-energy X-rays to the location of the tumor. The radiation oncologist should use careful planning to protect the surrounding tissues.

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    A Radiation Oncology, answered on behalf of
    What Is a Radiation Oncologist?
    A radiation oncologist treats cancer patients using radiation. In this video, Afshin Rashtian, MD, of Riverside Community Hospital, describes the type of training needed for this position.
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    What can I expect during radiation treatments for cancer?
    A patient can expect to be educated on their first visit for radiation treatment. In this video, Tamara Sutton, director of cancer services at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, describes the daily procedure during treatment. 
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    The primary benefit of GK: It is essentially a non-invasive treatment. It carries very low risk and usually no recovery time. People frequently go back to work the same day. And there are very few, if any, immediate side effects. The treatment is painless and highly effective. It has significantly reduced complications compared to open surgeries.
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    A Radiation Oncology, answered on behalf of
    What Is CyberKnife Therapy?
    CyberKnife therapy uses a robotic arm to deliver high doses of radiation to a small area. In this video, Afshin Rashtian, MD, of Riverside Community Hospital, describes the benefits of this treatment type.