Maximising Your Time: How to Prepare for a Video Consult

A doctor may recommend radiation for cancer at different stages. In the early stages, radiation therapy can help reduce the size of a tumor before surgery or kill remaining cancer cells afterward. In the later stages, it may help relieve pain as part of palliative care.

One form of radiation treatment involves using a machine that produces a beam of radiation. The beam targets a specific area of the body. Another type involves putting a radioactive substance inside the body, either permanently or temporarily.

In this article, we focus mainly on radiation therapy as a cancer treatment.

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy uses waves of energy, such as light or heat, to treat cancers and other tumors and conditions. The form of radiation used in cancer therapy is a high-energy type known as ionizing radiation.

Scientists still do not know exactly how radiation works as a treatment for cancer.

They do know, however, that it breaks up the DNA of cancer cells in a way that disrupts their growth and division. In this way, radiation can kill cancer cells, preventing or slowing the spread of the disease.

Sometimes a doctor prescribes radiation therapy alone, but usually, they recommend it in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or both.

There are many types of cancer. Learn more here.

Side effects

Radiation can affect healthy cells as well as cancerous ones. When this happens, a person experiences side effects.

Specific side effects depend on factors such as:

  • the area receiving treatment
  • the person’s overall health
  • the type and doses of radiation

Short term side effects

Short term side effects vary, depending on the part of the body receiving radiation.

What to expect

The doctor will discuss radiation therapy and other options and help weigh the pros and cons. Before treatment starts, they will determine the right type and dosage of radiation.

A person receiving external beam radiation may undergo a CT or MRI scan before treatment. This is to pinpoint the exact location and size of the tumor. A doctor may make a permanent but small mark on the skin to ensure that the radiation therapist will target the beam correctly.

Aftercare

After receiving external treatment, a person can go home and continue with their daily routine.

However, they may experience:

  • tiredness
  • sensitivity around the treatment site
  • emotional distress

Rest & Sleep

Also, monitor for adverse effects and tell the doctor if they occur. The doctor may recommend additional treatments aimed at relieving these.

People may need to speak to their employers about adjusting work schedules or taking medical leave.

Rest & Sleep

Also, monitor for adverse effects and tell the doctor if they occur. The doctor may recommend additional treatments aimed at relieving these.

People may need to speak to their employers about adjusting work schedules or taking medical leave.

Home Remedies

Also, monitor for adverse effects and tell the doctor if they occur. The doctor may recommend additional treatments aimed at relieving these.

To help manage these effects, it is important to:

Also, monitor for adverse effects and tell the doctor if they occur. The doctor may recommend additional treatments aimed at relieving these.

People may need to speak to their employers about adjusting work schedules or taking medical leave.

  1. get plenty of rest
  2. eat healthfully
  3. talk to friends and family about any side effects
  4. follow instructions, which may involve skin care, from the treatment team
  5. avoid spending time in the sun, due to a risk of photosensitivity