Categorized | Cancer

What You Need To Know About Radiotherapy Treatment

Cancer it is a word that no one wants to hear and yet sadly there are thousands of new cases that come along every day. One of the first things that comes to mind after the initial shock has worn off is what kind of treatments should I be looking at, what can I do to make myself well again. The most common treatment for Cancer presently is radiotherapy.

Brief History

Radiotherapy has been around for a long time and has been treating cancer patients for more than 100 years. The roots of radiotherapy of course trace back to the invention of x-rays which happened in 1895 and was done by Wilhelm Rotengen. In 1896 it is recorded that Emil Grubbe was probably the first physician to use x-rays to treat cancer, it was first done in Chicago, IL.

It was in the 1900’s that the field of radiotherapy started to grow because of the work that Marie Curie did in discovering the elements polonium and radium in the year 1898. From then on things began to move forward in the field going through to cobalt therapy and linear accelerators.

Types of radiotherapy

External Radiotherapy: This is the most common type of radiotherapy treatment that is used today and it is given as a long course of treatments over an 8 week period of time. There is usually 40 treatments given during this time period once a day, 5 days per week, but every treatment might be different.

When you get external radiotherapy it is on an outpatient to the hospital cancer centre and it is at a high tech machine that will direct the radiation to you. It is most often X-rays and they can be made into a few different versions, some rays are straight forward while others will be split into larger and smaller beams depending on the kind of cancer you have. When you go into having the treatment you will be positioned onto a treatment couch with care and then the machine will be lined up and settled in the area that the cancer cells are located in. Often times it will be lined up at different angles, the treatment take several minutes and you should not feel any pain or discomfort from it.

You should keep in mind that before you go in for the first treatment of radiotherapy you will have a planning appointment. You will go to the hospital and sit down with your Doctor to discuss the treatment, the side effects and what you will be looking at.

Cyber Knife: There is a new and very sophisticated form of radiotherapy that has started to be used, and while it is not able to be used for all types of tumours you can ask your Doctor if it would work for you. Cyberknife allows for you to have fewer treatments in a shorter period of time but is just as effective.

If you are worried that having radiotherapy will make you radioactive or dangerous to other people there is no need to worry. You will be able to mix with people and children any time you like during your treatment without having to worry.

Internal Radiotherapy:

This form of radiotherapy is given internally; most often they are given by implants or even liquids that are directly placed into your body. Brachytherapy is the process of placing a solid radioactive item inside the body generally with thin needles. The radioactive devices are often placed in the tumour directly or if only the general area is known the seeds are placed in the area. This is often an outpatient procedure, however if you have been given a device that will need to be removed afterwards you may have to stay in the hospital for several days until the device has been deactivated.

There is also a form of internal radiotherapy that involves introducing a liquid into the body, this form of radiotherapy is called radionuclide or radioisotope therapy. This form of radiotherapy is given to take orally or injected directly into the vein. If you have this form of treatment you will need to stay in the hospital for several days so that the Doctors can monitor the levels of radioactivity going on. Once you are at a low enough level so is safe for you and everyone around you.

The final form of this form of radiotherapy is where the Doctors will place seeds into your body. These seeds will give off a certain level of radioactivity for a certain amount of time. It can be for a few days or even months, depending on the treatment plan. These seeds are often left in the body and they are perfectly safe once they have deactivated and have no radiation left in them. If you are having a temporary restriction on visitors or movements depending on the strength of your radiation, your Doctor will advise you directly.

How will I know what’s right for me?

There is only one way to know exactly what will be right for you and that is to have an in-depth discussion with your primary Doctor. There are several different treatments out there for cancer today and the most important thing to keep in mind before you do any treatment is to have a firm treatment plan in place with your Doctor.

Treatment plans can range from modern medical treatments like radiotherapy or chemotherapy to different home pathetic remedies. There is information done by the Cancer Treatment Center of America that suggested a blended treatment plan of both modern science treatment and homeopathic may be the best course of action for cancer patients. These usually involve getting the standard radio or chemotherapy as well as a special diet.

Keeping a positive outlook and doing as much research as you possibly can is the only way to take Cancer on. Remember that no matter how the diagnosis sounds when you first get it there are choices, you will have options on how you fight it.

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