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What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy, one of way or treatment to cure cancer, is the delivery of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy) or from putting materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes) through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy). Radiation therapy is often used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy (see chemo side effects) or both.

Related to lung cancer, radiation following surgery for stages II or III non-small cell lung cancer may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in the chest, but long-term survival rates are not significantly improved because cancer may have already spread to other areas of the body.Else, there are some people who used it for prevention. In small-cell lung cancer, radiation therapy to the brain is sometimes given to kill any cells that have spread to the brain but are not detected by scans. This is called Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation (PCI).

Types of Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy

This is used most commonly and involves the use of an external machine, which delivers high-dose radiation

Internal radiation (brachytherapy)

Sometimes radiation is given internally for lung cancer. With brachytherapy, a thin plastic tube is inserted during bronchoscopy. A small amount of radioactive material is then passed through the tube, allowing treatment to be delivered to a precise area. The tube is removed after treatment.

The Affect of Radiation Therapy

Many people are able to carry on daily activities during therapy, although fatigue is very common and tends to worsen during the course of treatment. With external radiation therapy, you do not need to be concerned that the radiation will affect those around you, as with some therapies used for other cancers.


Side Effects of radiation Therapy

Skin irritation, including redness and peeling, usually starts within the first week or two of treatment. Your oncologist may prescribe a cream for you and special attention to skin care is important. Fatigue is very common and may persist for several weeks beyond treatment. Pain or difficulty with swallowing (esophagitis) can occur and are reasons to contact your oncologist. Late symptoms such as radiation-induced lung damage can occur, but in most cases, the benefits of therapy far outweigh the risks of these complications.



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