Radiation therapy is an effective treatment for cancer, and uses high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. There are several methods of radiation therapy depending on the various sources of the incident radiation. External beam radiation involves a machine which incidents high energy beams on the targeted location. This is the most common method as it is specific to the particular site only. Radiation therapy may be used for many reasons. It is effective for the primary treatment of cancers as well as can reduce the symptoms in advanced cancer. It is useful in collaboration with other treatments such as chemotherapy and can also be done after a surgery to ensure that all cancer cells are destroyed. This prevents the relapse of cancer.
Cancerous growth can be diagnosed by several imaging tests such as CT scan and MRI scan which produce detailed images of the particular organ. Endoscopy is also helpful to internally examine the organ. Blood tests may also be useful in detecting any abnormalities by assessing the blood cell count. Biopsy of the particular tissue will confirm the diagnosis of cancer as it can be observed under the microscope and hence, the type of cancer cells can be exactly known.
Prior to Radiation therapy, a CT scan is carried out in order to point out the exact location of the cancerous growth so that the radiation can be incident accurately. Radiation therapy requires multiple sittings depending upon the type, location and size of cancerous growth. The two types of treatments are -
Radiation therapy can also destroy other healthy nearby cells. It also causes hair loss from the particular part of treatment. Radiations may cause several skin problems and result in dryness, itching, peeling and blisters on the skin. This treatment usually results in fatigue and weakness in the patient. Depending on the targeted location of the radiation, there may be various specific side effects.