This medical guide focuses on listing the after-effects of radiation therapy while acknowledging its benefits, to determine if its pros are more significant than its cons or not.

Radiation therapy treats multiple types of cancer and other abnormal cell growth disorders effectively. But like treatment, it has a few risk factors that can make the patient experience a few side-effects. Some patient might or might not experience these side effects as the therapy reacts differently to each individual. Even a different part of a patient’s body can respond differently to the treatment.

Most of these side-effects can be prevented if the patient takes good care of his/her body, discussing any abnormal change in the body with their doctor.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiotherapy or radiation therapy (RT) is a non-invasive therapy that uses ionizing radiation, typically as a part of treating tumor or cancer to kill or control the malignant cells. The treatment is delivered to the patients using a linear accelerator.

Radiation therapy can also be used in the treatment of blood disorders, noncancerous growths and thyroid diseases. It uses powerful X-rays for killing abnormal cells from particular parts of the body.

Facts about Radiation Therapy

•    Radiation Therapy produces powerful energy waves for disrupting the growth of cancer cells, by killing them or by shrinking the tumor, to prepare the patient for the surgery.

•    For ensuring accuracy, the placement of radiation is stimulated during the planning before the actual treatment plan is executed. Some doctors also us image guidance in radiation therapy to boost accuracy.

Why is Radiation Therapy used?

•    Non-Cancerous Growth – due to abnormal growth of cells.

•    Blood Disorder – caused due to infection or excess cell production.

•    Cancer – for killing or preventing the cancer cells from spreading in the body.

Radiation Therapy Long-Term Side Effects

One of the most common side effect of radiation therapy it affects the healthy tissues near a targeted or infected region. So when RT kills or slows the growth of cancerous cells, it is also affecting the healthy cells of the patient's body.

Here is a list of side effects that a patient might experience if the RT is targeted to treat these specific parts of the body:

Head & Neck – The patient might encounter the following conditions:

•    Dry Mouth

•    Gum or Mouth Sores

•    Stiffness in Jaw

•    Nausea

•    Tooth Decay

•    Difficulty in Swallowing

•    Lymphedema (swelling)

Chest – The patient might experience the following conditions:

•    Difficulty Swallowing

•    Breast Pain or nipple soreness

•    Shoulder Stiffness

•    Shortness of Breath

•    A cough or Fever – This condition is called radiation pneumonitis that takes places 2 weeks or 6 months after the therapy.

•    Radiation Fibrosis – permanent scarring in the lungs caused because of untreated radiation pneumonitis.

Abdomen & Stomach – The patient might experience the following conditions:

•    Nausea and Vomiting

•    Diarrhea

Pelvis – The patient might experience the following conditions:

•    Diarrhea

•    Rectal Bleeding

•    Incontinence

•    Bladder Irritation

Radiation Therapy Side Effects on reproductive organs for:

Men

•    Sexual disorders including delayed or early ejaculation or erectile dysfunction.

•    Reduced sperm count and activity as a result of RT on testes and prostate. 

Women

•    Changes in menstruation

•    Symptoms of Menopause

•    Infertility, or losing the ability to sustain a pregnancy.

FAQs

Is radiation therapy effective?

Radiation therapy is very effective for treating a targeted tumour in any part of the body, where surgery can’t be considered. It has a decent success rate especially in treating cancer in its earlier stages when it has not spread in the body.  

Is Radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is a safe option for treating tumours, yes it does have a few cons but so does surgery and chemotherapy. The side-effects of the radiation therapy don’t matter to a patient if it can save him.

Can I avoid the side effects of radiation therapy?

Yes, patients can take preventive measure to avoid these side effects. Now doctors use image-guided radiation therapy that boost the accuracy, that helps in reducing these risk factors.

Explore Medmonks.com to learn more about radiation therapy and its alternatives, to get the best treatment in India.