Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy is the medical use of ionizing radiation to control malignant cancer cells. Radiation treatments are a commonplace approach for mesothelioma cancers, and are intended for local disease control, symptomatic relief and as therapeutic treatment. Radiation does have survival benefits, yet cannot cure the disease, and is most effective when combined with surgery and/or chemotherapy rather than used alone. Obviously the course of treatment selected will depend on the type of the tumor, the location of the tumor and of course the general health of the patient.
This treatment consists of high level x-rays to kill cancer cells within a certain area of the patients’ body, and is commonly used for the treatment of malignant tumors. Radiation therapy is commonly used on the main tumor mass. The radiation beams are aimed from several angles at the tumor, and using high level x-rays kill cancer cells within one area of a patients’ body. Sometimes, when the patient is too weak for surgery, a radioactive material can be given directly into the chest or abdomen via radiation therapy.
Like most other treatment methods, radiation therapy does have some side effects. While the procedure itself is painless, and low doses of radiation cause few side effects, treatments of higher doses cause several side effects both during treatment and in the months following treatment. Most side effects are expected and can be controlled. One of the goals of your doctor should be to reduce side effects, and to help you to understand and to deal with those side effects which are unavoidable.
Side effects include damage to the skin including rash and tenderness, swelling, generalized fatigue and tiredness, fibrosis, hair loss in the area where the radiation is being administered, dry mouth and dry eyes, and can even include infertility and the potential for secondary malignant cells and cancer. Additionally, depending on where the radiation is being concentrated there can be other side effects. An example would be abdominal radiation; side effects could include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. A good medical team will make the patient aware of all possible side effects prior to starting treatment. If you are unsure, make use you talk to you physician and get your questions answered. More information on radiation therapy and what to discuss with your doctor is available upon request.
These treatments generally will be given in hospital although some cases can be treated in an outpatient basis. In all cases, the treatments will be closely monitored.
There are several advantages to radiation therapy, and it is commonly used in patients with mesothelioma. Radiation therapy is painless, the treatments are administered in a small area, and the treatments are short in duration and repetition, making radiation therapy a very helpful treatment option for those people suffering from mesothelioma. However, only you and your medical team can decide if radiation therapy is right for you. As always, weigh your options thoroughly before making any decision, and always request more information if needed.