Radiation treatment therapy is the introduction of intense-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells’ DNA and kill their potential spread and growth. It may be provided with the help of machines, known as linear accelerators, or through radioactive sources kept inside the patient’s body for a short time or on a permanent basis. Radiation therapy treatment can be used to treat various kinds of cancer, mitigate a cancer patient’s pain, or reduce the risk of other symptoms. But what is radiation oncology? Well, the term radiation oncology refers to the process of treating cancers with the help of radiation therapy. Radiation oncology procedures include various forms of treatment techniques.
The concept of radiation therapy is based on targeting the high-energy radiation dose to a cancer patient as accurately as possible to reduce the adverse effects and prevent harming normal and healthy cells. Imaging tests or X-rays can be used to aid in determining the precise location, size, and shape of the cancer tumor and describe its limitations. Your doctor or healthcare provider will give you certain instructions depending on the performed assessment. The number of patients who have their cancers cured successfully with the help of radiation therapy is increasing persistently.
Who Performs Radiation Therapy
The latest treatment technology has blended three-dimensional or 3D imaging technology, automated treatment scheduling, and intense-energy x-ray equipment to make more accurate cancer treatment techniques. Healthcare professionals indulged in radiation therapy for cancer treatment are:
- Radiation therapists
- Radiation oncologists
- Medical radiation physicists
- Radiation oncology nurses
- Social workers
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Over half of the population of cancer patients are treated with radiation therapy during their course of treatment. Radiation therapy treatment is the usage of intense-energy radiation to cure any form of cancer. A radiation oncologist may use radiation therapy for cancer treatment, alleviate other symptoms that occurred by cancer, or even mitigate a cancer patient’s chronic pain.
Radiation therapy functions because radiation kills the cancer cells’ potential to divide or reproduce, and the patient’s body naturally gets rid of the deadly cancer cells. Radiation energy affects cancer cells by destroying their DNA to no longer spread and grow. When it comes to treating cancer, radiation is the most impactful technique at damaging cancer cells that are actively reproducing. In simple words, cancer cells are more susceptible to radiation energy for two reasons:
- they grow and spread way faster than normal cells
- they do not mend this destruction as effectively as normal cells
Radiation Therapy Process
Once the radiation therapy has been recommended, a planning phase takes place. The patient will initially undertake a simulation scan on a particular CT scanner. Oral or IV contrast can be used. If equipment is required to keep the patient still or frozen, this can be done at the simulation scan visit. People also ask, “how long is radiation oncology residency” but more on that later.
The radiation oncologist (the healthcare professional involved in the radiation therapy treatment) then delineates the site to be treated, the tumor & the locations to be prevented from the harmful radiation (such as healthy organs). The radiation strategy is prepared and checked by medical physicists, dosimetrist, and radiation oncologists. The radiation strategy then undergoes safety and quality checks.
Radiation therapy is given to radiation oncologists or therapists in the cancer treatment units. The radiation oncologist and other healthcare staff members, including dietitians and nurses, will check the patient during radiation therapy to handle adverse effects.
Radiation Therapy Techniques
High-energy radiation can also destroy normal cells, so it is necessary to target the radiation to cancer. An advanced kind of three-dimensional (3-D) conformal radiation therapy, known as IMRT or intensity-modulated radiation therapy, more accurately complies with the dose to the malignant cancer tumors, enabling safer transportation of extreme doses of radiation.
Other cancer treatment techniques that allow ultra-accurate doses of high-energy radiation to cancer tumors incorporate stereotactic radiosurgery, which utilizes 3-D x-ray techniques to know the precise coordinates of a cancer tumor. The extremely targeted x-rays or gamma rays then converge on cancer tumors to treat them. The Gamma Knife treatment option is a technique that uses radioactive cobalt materials to concentrate multiple beams of radiation energy on a small site. Linear accelerators may also be applied to deliver stereotactic radiation treatment to the brain. Other organs of the body can be cured with stereotactic body radiation therapy or simply SBRT. Emerging sites for using the SBRT treatment technique include liver, lung, and bone.
Radiation therapy can also be utilized to stop blood circulation to a tumor in vascular parts such as the liver. For example, radio embolization utilizes microspheres thronged with radioactive isotopes to halt blood supply to a cancer tumor and starve it.
How Is Radiation Therapy Used To Treat Cancer?
A radiation oncologist and other healthcare professionals can use brachytherapy or external beam radiation methods to treat cancer. External beam radiation treatment can be produced by a linear accelerator (equipment that increases the movement of electrons to generate gamma rays or x-rays). Proton treatment therapy is another external beam radiation treatment therapy that uses synchrotrons or cyclotrons to generate charged ions that kill tumors.
Radiation therapy delivered by radioactive cobalt sources placed inside the patient’s body is known as brachytherapy. The radioactive cobalt sources are sealed in wires, needles, seeds, or catheters and embedded directly into or surrounding a cancer tumor on a short-term or permanent basis. Brachytherapy is a general treatment for the uterus, prostate, cervix, or breast cancers.
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