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Radiation therapy in Oncology. How to use?

Radiation therapy in Oncology – one of the methods of treatment of cancer. The basis – the effects of ionizing radiation, which is generated in a special apparatus with a radioactive source. The positive effect is achieved due to the sensitivity of tumor cells to ionizing radiation. While normal cells are not affected.

Methods of radiation therapy

Malignant tumor dies when it accumulates the maximum dose of radiation. To achieve this, use a variety of techniques, guiding the rays to the cancer from different sides.

  • The remote method. The radiation produced at some distance from the surface of the skin.
  • The contact method. The apparatus includes a radioactive source directly onto the skin.
  • Intracavitary method. The device is introduced into the damaged cancer body (uterus, rectum, esophagus, etc.).
  • Interstitial method. The source of the radioactive rays is placed into the tumor.
  • Internal exposure. The influence of radionuclides, which selectively accumulate in any organ.

Radiation therapy in cancer treatment can be used as the only method (rarely), and coupled with other methods (surgery and chemotherapy). Irradiation is used:

  • before surgery (to reduce the size of the tumor, for example);
  • after the surgery to kill remaining cancer cells);
  • before and after surgery;
  • with recurrence of the cancer over a long time;
  • while tumour metastasis to bones and lymph nodes.

Who should not use radiation therapy? The pros and cons of the method

Contraindications to radiation exposure:

  • expressed phenomena of intoxication; the serious condition of the patient;
  • fever;
  • cachexia;
  • the collapse of a malignant tumor, accompanied by hemoptysis, bleeding;
  • extensive damage cancer;
  • germination of tumors in hollow organs, large vessels;
  • cancer pleurisy;
  • multiple metastases;
  • radiation sickness;
  • concomitant severe disease (myocardial infarction, kidney disease, respiratory distress, active pulmonary tuberculosis, third degree of cardiovascular failure, decompensated diabetes, etc.);
  • leukopenia; anemia; thrombocytopenia in pronounced degree.

Advantages of radiation therapy:

  • cancer cells no longer divided, part of them dies; the tumor is reduced;
  • the blood vessels that feed cancer, partially overgrown;
  • radiation exposure is effective in the treatment of cancer of the thymus gland, the testicle, the lymphatic system; certain forms of lung cancer.

Disadvantages of radiotherapy:

  • hypersensitivity to irradiation of the hematopoietic system and epithelium of the intestine;
  • low sensitivity to radioactive rays for cancer of the brain, stomach, kidney, bone, and cartilage;
  • there are many adverse reactions that occur during treatment.

What are the side effects of radiation therapy?

  • In distance treatment, itching, peeling, dryness, redness, small bubbles.
  • When exposed to the head and neck can be hair loss, to disrupt the hearing.
  • Upon irradiation of the face and neck, you may receive a sore throat, dryness, pain when swallowing, hoarseness. Disturbed appetite. How to prevent and reduce the activity of such reactions?

First, to abandon sharp, salty, rough and acidic foods. Eat steamed, boiled, chopped or pureed. Often and small portions.

Second, drink more fluids. Good fruit compotes, jelly, cranberry juice, broth hips. The throat may be rinsed with a decoction of calendula, peppermint, or chamomile.

Thirdly, at night, to bury his nose in the sea buckthorn oil. A day to take in any vegetable oil (one or two tablespoons on an empty stomach). When brushing your teeth use a soft brush.

  • When exposed to the organs in the thoracic cavity may appeardry cough, pain in the throat when swallowing, shortness of breath, muscle soreness.
  • Radiation therapy in cancer of the breast can provoke the inflammatory reaction of the skin, soreness of the muscles and chest, cough.
  • Radioactive effects on the abdominal organs leads to weight loss and loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, pain, disturbed urination. To deal with problems should be using power. How and what to eat described above.

Radiation therapy to the brain

Used to reduce the size of the tumor and stopping its growth. To completely remove the cancer by this method impossible. Radioactive rays are used to remove the remains of the cancer after surgery and for the treatment of inoperable tumors.

What kind of radiation therapy used for cancer of the brain?

1) Radiation of the whole brain mass.


  • multifocal malignant neoplasms;
  • metastases of the brain.

Used as the only treatment or as an addition to microsurgery and other types of radiation therapy.

2) Traditional radiation exposure.


  • a large tumor;
  • the likelihood of metastasis on surrounding tissues.

Radiation sent directly at the tumor cells.

3) three-Dimensional conformal therapy.

Using the computer builds a model of the tumor. Depending on this, produce external exposure using different beam shapes and different directions.

4) Radiation of modulated intensity.

Here also, there are different forms of the beam in a different direction. Additionally, changing the irradiation intensity.

5) Hyperfractionation.

Dose of one day is divided into several sessions. Man is irradiated several times a day in small doses.

6) Brachytherapy.

At the end of the operation in the tumor or around it implanted radioactive transplant. It is installed for a few days.

The effects of radioactive radiation of the brain:

  • fatigue;
  • hair loss;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • redness of the skin;
  • headache;
  • sleep disturbance;
  • the cerebral activity (in children up to three years).

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer

apparat luchevoj terapiiApplies to all stages of prostate tumors. In the initial stages of the disease, can be used instead of prostatectomy. Irradiation is carried out also after the surgery to kill remaining isolated cancer cells. At a late stage of the disease radiation therapy helps to reduce pain.

Types of therapy for prostate cancer:

1) External influence.

One course is five days. It may take a few courses at once. The radiation source is located at some distance from the body.

2) Brachytherapy.

Inside the affected organ is introduced a special capsule, which emit radiation over a certain period of time.

3) Radiosurgery.

Performed using the cyber-knife. Exposure is narrowly focused beam of high intensity.


  • fatigue, weakness;
  • frequent urination;
  • bowel disorders;
  • redness and dryness of the skin in the irradiation zone;
  • impotence.

Radiotherapy for cancer of the uterus

Often used to treat initial stages of the disease. Radiation therapy after removal of the uterus is performed if high risk of recurrence. Use external and internal methods. The course is 5-8 weeks.


  • infertility (due to effects on the ovaries);
  • early menopause (approximately three months after the start of treatment);
  • vaginal bleeding and discharge for some time after therapy);
  • diarrhea;
  • nausea;
  • burning when you urinate;
  • swelling of the feet orgenitals.

Radiation therapy for lung cancer

In most cases, ineffective. Held in case of impossibility of surgical treatment, before surgery and after surgery to remove preserved in the tissues of cancer cells and prevent recurrence.


  • hyperfractionation (if not small cell cancer of the first and second stages);
  • standard remote irradiation;
  • contact.


  • difficulty and painful swallowing;
  • fatigue;
  • indigestion;
  • cough;
  • damage to the skin (dryness, redness, fine vesicles, itching).

It is a temporary phenomenon, which after a course pass. Long-term consequence may be the lung fibrosis, which appears six to nine months after exposure.

Recovery after radiation therapy

To minimize the harmful effects of radiation and faster to cope with its effects using the following:

  1. To relax after each session at least three hours.
  2. To eat healthy and balanced. Small portions 4-5 times a day. Food should be boiled or steamed, crushed. More vegetables and fruits. Drink at least two liters of fluid a day.
  3. Wear soft underwear made of natural fabrics, loose clothes.
  4. Wash warm water with soap (no washcloths).
  5. During the period of exposure to unsubscribe from perfumes for the skin. The area of impact protecting creams from the sun.
  6. To perform breathing exercises.
  7. To use gel and foaming toothpaste and a soft brush. To restrict the use of dentures.
  8. More time outdoors in the fresh air. Regularly ventilate the room.
  9. To give up Smoking and alcohol.

These are General recommendations. Individual recovery plan will help to make doctor.