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Radiation Therapy

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 16:12

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. There are two types of radiation therapy:

  • External radiation therapy uses a machine to radiate the cancer from outside the body. This procedure is similar to the ordinary x-ray, but with higher energy.
  • Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) uses materials called radioisotopes that are introduced into the body through thin plastic tubes. This method enables the radiation to be guided directly to the area where the cancer was found.

Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

A common side effect of radiation therapy is that the skin in the treated area becomes dry, red, and tender, sometimes to the point of resembling sunburn. It is important to let the medical team know if skin irritation occurs, as they will know the best options for soothing and healing the skin.

People who receive radiation to the abdomen may experience diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting. The doctor can suggest changes in diet to relieve the symptoms, or prescribe medications to counteract the side effects.

Another common side effect when receiving radiation, especially during the latter part of the treatment, is tiredness and exhaustion. If you feel excessively tired, let your doctor know.

For further information about radiation therapy, go to Radiation Therapy.

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