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Commonly Asked Questions About Radiation Oncology
Cancer treatment often includes the use of radiation. Read on to learn more about radiation oncology and how it works. Radiation treatment involves using high-energy X-rays with a linear accelerator. This type of X-ray therapy is non-invasive. The healthcare professionals on your cancer treatment team will help explain what you need to know before your sessions.
FAQs about radiation oncology
If you want to know more about radiation oncology, here are some common questions and the answers to them:
Will the patient lose hair?
The patient will not lose hair throughout the body during radiation therapy. Hair loss will only be present in the area of the body where the patient is receiving the radiation treatment, such as the head, neck, or lower pelvis. Lower doses of this treatment often lead to temporary hair loss. Higher doses may lead to permanent hair loss.
What are other possible side effects?
Many patients tolerate radiation oncology treatments well. They tend to go back to their normal activities after each session. Some of them develop painful effects. The patient needs to inform a member of their oncology treatment team about any problem.
Any side effect will only be on the area receiving treatment. There could be some skin irritation, soreness, or cramps.
These side effects often start by week two or three of the treatment. The effects may last for many weeks after the last day of the radiation oncology sessions. The doctor or nurse will tell the patient about these side effects and how to manage them. Mental and physical discomfort are common after sessions. Fatigue may also set in. Taking time to relax is important during treatment.
What is external beam radiation therapy?
The delivery of this type of radiation is through the skin. It targets and destroys cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy often happens five days each week for several weeks. It allows the doctor to apply enough radiation into the area of the body that has cancer. This treatment also allows the healthy cells to recover each day.
What is brachytherapy?
This is known as internal radiation. It involves placing some radioactive material into the cancerous growth or its surrounding healthy tissue. A higher dose of radiation may go into the cancer cells. The sources of radiation may be seeds, ribbons, capsules, or thin wires. The doctor may implant them temporarily or permanently.
Are there alternatives to radiation?
Some radioactive fluids or pills can target some types of cancers. This form of radiation oncology is called systemic radiation therapy. The medicine enters the whole body. This effect can also come from intravenous radioactive material. This can be used to treat more severe forms of cancer, like bone cancer.
There are also radiolabeled antibodies. These are antibodies with radiation-packed particles, designed to attach to cancer cells and destroy them with tiny doses of radiation. Targeted therapy works directly on the growths by blocking the growth factors on their surfaces. Intraoperative radiation therapy can help the patient when the vital organs are near the cancerous growth. The doctor will move the vital organs temporarily to keep them out of the way when the radiation reaches the tumor.
Do kids have a greater risk of being harmed from radiation exposure?
Children do have a greater risk of developing side effects from radiation exposure. Younger individuals have more growing tissues and more dividing cells. The longer life span of kids gives more time for cancer cells to grow and develop. Children must observe protective measures during radiation oncology treatment.
What is potassium iodide?
This chemical compound is a type of salt. Its structure is a little like table salt. If the patient takes potassium iodide in time, at the right dosage, the patient’s thyroid gland does not absorb the radioactive iodine. This radiation oncology treatment can prevent thyroid diseases and cancers from developing.
What are the long-term effects of radiation exposure?
More cancers may develop with prolonged exposure to radiation. Radioactive iodine may concentrate in the thyroid. This increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer. Potassium iodide pills may lower the risk of developing thyroid cancer. A radiation oncology doctor can explain how radiation therapy will work. That way, the patient can avoid prolonged exposure.
The bottom line
There are different types of cancers. A proper consultation with the right doctor can give you more information about radiation oncology. This can help you understand what you need to know before, during, and after radiation treatment.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Oncology in Marlton, NJ.
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