External Radiation Therapy
External radiation therapy is a cancer treatment, where doctors use radiation to target specific cancer cells in a patient. In this type of local treatment, a radiation machine is used to treat patients. The external radiation therapy proves effective against multiple cancer types in the body.
Performing this procedure becomes possible with a linear accelerator. Oncologists at Max Healthcare use this machine to deliver the radiation from every angle on the patient’s body part containing malignant tumors. The machine moves all around the patient’s body and delivers radiation.
External radiation therapy is of different types that brings diverse procedures to the forefront:
3-D conformal radiation
Here oncologists use radiation on those malignant tumors that have irregular shapes and lie close to healthy tissues and cells. Doctors conforms the radiation to tumor shape.
Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
Here the doctor determines the appropriate radiation, depending on the severity, size, and location of the tumor and the computer software provides the results.
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
IGRT locates the tumor and delivers the appropriate radiation. In cases where the tumor moves from the concerned area, the radiation fields are adjusted accordingly.
Such procedures include scanning the tumor with CT Scan and delivering the radiation.
Stereotactic radiation procedure
Includes targeting smaller area with high radiation doses. They are performed by stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiation therapy. This targets the tumor in a very precise manner.
Pre-treatment work up includes a few tests, the patient’s medical history and imaging tests. The procedure details are discussed, expectations, side effects, and ways in which they can take care of themselves. The patient is advised to wear comfortable clothes of cotton or fleece.
The follow-up care will be determined by the oncologist dealing with the patient. The patient must keep their mental health on priority and contact the doctor in case of any discrepancies. The patient must meet the doctor six weeks after radiation to assess the condition. Here the doctor will analyze the response of the tumor to the therapy and guide the patient about the next necessary steps.
The risks and side effects vary from one patient to another and the area(s) treated:
- Skin problems: Patients suffering from breast cancer may witness changes in their skin, like scarring or darkening, etc.
- Nausea: Stomach or pancreatic cancer patients might suffer from nausea. This can be relieved with appropriate medications.
- Hair loss: Brain cancer patients may suffer from rapid hair loss, which is temporary.
- Swallowing issues: Neck and head cancer patients may find it difficult to swallow food and medicines.
- Stipulating a time for recovery can be difficult. Cancer is a disease that takes time to recover. The chances of recovery will depend on tumor size and cancer type.
- The side effects of treatment are temporary and will go away with in a few days after treatment.
- Ask for more information from your doctor regarding your concerns and routine follow-up.