Radiation has been used for a number of years to attack cancer cells where they live. It uses high energy X-rays, radioactive isotopes and electron beams to do its work. The genetic makeup of cancer cells is destroyed or damaged at the chromosome level by radiation therapy.
This treatment is called a local treatment. That means that it occurs where the disease is found. Radiation is directed at the cancer cells. Radiation treatment and chemotherapy have both proven to be more effective when they’re used together. Radiation enhances the effects of chemotherapy. A common use is directed at shrinking cancerous growths before they are removed surgically. For tumors that cannot be removed from the body radiation can still be used to reduce pain, blockages and bleeding caused by cancerous tumors.
There is no set role for radiation in colon cancer therapy. It has been used to improve other controls directed at the cancer and this lengthens survival thereby helping the patient from experiencing pain under left rib cage.
On the other hand rectal cancers respond much more positively to radiation based therapies. It is particularly useful for reducing tumors size prior to surgical removal. When used in addition to other therapies it can improve survival rates. People who are very sick or infirm may have their rectal cancer treated exclusively by radiation therapy.
A reoccurrence if of rectal cancer can be particularly painful. Pelvic radiation is often administered before and after surgery to alleviate pain.
What types of radiation therapy are there?
There are quite a few different types of radiation therapy.
External beam radiation therapy describes the most prevalent type. A considerable amount of planning and preparation is required before this type of therapy is administered to cancer patients. A team of specialists that always includes a radiation oncologist will determine the exact location at which to aim for beam the radiation. They will tattoo small dots onto your body to ensure their aim is true. The entire process will take a number of hours. The treatment itself will last mere minutes. Your schedule of treatments will last for several weeks and occur about five times a week.
Internal radiation, as you may suppose, if entails injecting radioactive isotopes into organs or blood vessels. This type of systemic radiation therapy uses radioactive iodine (I-131). If the cancer has spread to the bone Strontium-89 (Metastron) may be used.
Interstitial radiation therapy involves positioning radioactive sources into a cancerous tumor itself. These are removed in some instances are they are located permanently in the tumor area.
Intracavitary radiation therapy resembles interstitial radiation therapy expect radioactive sources are place inside body cavities where tumors are located. Typically the sources are removed after several hours of treatment.
Radiation therapy side effects tend to be localized. Their greatest effects are felt in the areas of the body where the therapy is applied. Effects can include localized irritation to areas like the skin, hair, neck or chest or vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Medicinal and other techniques have been developed to minimize many of the side effects that radiation can cause.