How cancer is treated with radiation therapy. Explanation.

How cancer is treated with radiation therapy. Explanation.

In this article I want to talk about the general principles and concepts of cancer treatment. First of all, it should be noted right away that cancer is a very complex disease, and like a cold, it is not treated with the same drug for many patients. Cancer treatment is somewhat individual, the doctor uses standardized techniques and approaches, but the details and dosages change every time.

General principles of cancer treatment

Radiotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy.

How cancer is treated with radiotherapy .picture No. 1
Often, cancer patients get to radiotherapists or chemotherapists after surgeons. And it happens that after radiotherapy you need the help of surgeons.

So, when a cancer is found in a patient, depending on the stage of the tumor, its localization and the patient’s condition, treatment methods are chosen. This is usually surgery to remove the tumor or chemotherapy. It happens that you have to combine these two methods. So, with surgical removal, or chemotherapy, it is not always possible to destroy a cancerous tumor. It is also not always advisable to use surgery or chemotherapy for treatment. And that’s where radiotherapy comes into play. That is, with the help of radiotherapy, they either improve the results of treatment with other methods, achieving a reduction in the likelihood of recurrent cancer. Or completely destroy the cancer.

It should be understood that:

  1. The human body is a complex and interconnected system.
  2. Radiation is essentially a beam that goes in a straight line without much regard for obstacles. (you can read in the article at the link https://radiation-info.com/2021/08/15/what-is-radiation-or-ionizing-radiation/ )
How cancer is treated with radiotherapy .picture No. 2
Drawing of a man by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Based on the two points listed above, it turns out that when a doctor irradiates a tumor, healthy areas of the body also fall under radiation. The situation will be more complicated if sensitive organs or vital organs can be exposed to radiation. Although it is certainly difficult to say which organs are not important to us… So, in order to minimize the exposure of healthy organs (tissues), doctors and physicists specifically calculate the doses and directions under which radioactive rays should be applied in order to minimize the negative impact.

Also, to limit the irradiation zone, special blocks or limiters are used that reduce the width of the radioactive beam.

Cancer treatment with radiation (radiotherapy).

Radiotherapists are engaged in the treatment of cancer diseases with the help of radiotherapeutic methods. Before treatment, the radiotherapist examines the patient and familiarizes himself with his analyzes. It is important to understand that the patient is healthy enough for his body to withstand treatment. Patient motivation, positive and responsible attitude towards treatment are also very important. I have talked a lot with radiotherapists, they try to set up their patients for fruitful work, as it helps in treatment.

How cancer is treated with radiotherapy .picture No. 3
It is believed that some patients feel the condition of their doctor, if he is unwell or sad, this can have a bad effect on their well-being. So doctors set up their patients for fruitful work.

So, I got a little carried away by the topics of motivation. As a rule, large doses are given to tumors. In some cases, the doses may be higher than the threshold of radiation sickness of the 3rd degree. This is certain death. But there is a difference, in the case of treatment, a huge dose of radiation is supplied very locally, and the body tolerates it normally. In the case of radiation sickness of the third degree, the whole body receives such a dose.

Also, this large dose is not served at one time, as a rule, it is spread out and divided into several receptions.

For example, if you need to get 10 units of something for treatment, then the doctor will write that 4 units will be given on Monday, there will be a break on Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 more units will be given on Friday, and the remaining two will be given on Sunday. In real cases, the break may be weeks. And of course the radiation dose is not measured in units, but about this in a separate article.

So, in addition to radiation, a number of auxiliary medicines and painkillers are prescribed, since the treatment process may not be the most pleasant.

How cancer is treated with radiotherapy .picture No. 4
Painkillers are often integral companions of cancer treatment.

After irradiation, the tumors become inflamed, burn. In the intervals between receiving doses of radiation in patients, depending on the part of the body that was irradiated or that was touched, various symptoms may occur. For example, when the brain is irradiated, symptoms may occur – dizziness, loss of consciousness. If the diagnosis did not detect a tendency to epilepsy, treatment is likely to provoke his seizures. When irradiating the larynx, due to swelling and damage to the mucous membranes, a person may stop eating indefinitely due to pain. In the treatment of certain types of cancer, the pain may be such that the patient will not be able to sleep for several days.

The treatment process described above can be repeated several times during the year with breaks of several months or more.

Conclusion on radiotherapy.

Of course, even with all indications for treatment with radiotherapy, the outcome of treatment is not always positive. The course of treatment can be dangerous for the patient, if the doctor sees, treatment can lead to deterioration of the condition – treatment will stop.

How cancer is treated with radiotherapy .picture No. 5
Sometimes doctors have to make difficult choices and stop treatment.

Generally speaking, modern treatment may not always lead to a complete cure for cancer. Also, treatment can be dangerous for the patient. In such cases, doctors adhere to the strategy – you have to live with cancer. In fact, many patients diagnosed with cancer live long enough and well, provided that all the recommendations of doctors are followed.

In Russia, there is a certain mortality of patients from non-compliance with the requirements of doctors. For example, it is now 2021. The coronavirus epidemic is raging all over the world. And people with cancer have reduced immunity. So some patients violate the regime in order to get to the birthday of a loved one, for example, a daughter. And at the birthday party there is a carrier of the coronavirus. That’s how a cancer patient gets sick with coronavirus. Doctors do not always manage to treat people from two serious diseases at once.

By the way, you can get cancer several times. That is, if a patient has been treated for one type of cancer, it is not a fact that after some time another cancer will not arise, even if the treatment was successful and there was no metostasis.

I think, for me, in this article it is important to convey to you that it is very important for any patient to follow all the recommendations and requirements of a doctor. Even what may not seem important can play a huge role. You also need to be determined to win. Who is healthy – do not get sick, who is sick – get well.

If you are interested in the profession of a radiotherapist, you can read the Wikipedia article, link to it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_therapist.

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