Radiotherapy or Radiation oncology or Radiation therapy is an alternative treatment for cancer. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in any part of the body. Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiations such as x-rays, gamma rays, or protons to control the growth of malignant or cancer cells. It does not provide a cure for the disease but controls the progression of the disease. It is usually combined with chemotherapy, surgery, or hormone therapy for better results.
Indications for Radiotherapy
- Cancerous or malignant tumors
- Non-cancerous or benign tumors
- Some blood disorders
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Acoustic neuromas
- Heterotopic ossification
Methods of radiotherapy:
There are basically two methods that are usually used to give radiotherapy to a patient. The choice of method depends upon the type, size, and location of the cancer. The two methods are:
- External radiotherapy: The radiotherapy that is given from outside through an external source is termed external radiotherapy. A machine called a linear accelerator which consists of high-energy radiation beams is used in external radiotherapy. The radiations are externally aimed at cancer and surrounding areas. The surrounding areas are focused because there are high chances of the spread of cancer to these tissues. It is a painless process. It involves continuous treatment for a few days or weeks.
- Internal radiotherapy: In this method, a radioactive source that can be solid or liquid is temporarily placed inside the body near cancer. Although the insertion of the radioactive source may sometimes cause a little discomfort the emission process is completely painless.
The procedure of Radiotherapy:
During radiotherapy, the high-energy radiations are directed to the cancerous cells either externally or internally. The radiations permanently damage the DNA of the cancerous cells leading to their death. These radiations may temporarily damage the nearby normal cells as normal cells have the ability to repair the DNA damage themselves. This results in the normal growth of these cells. If the requirement is to reduce the pain or size of the tumor then small doses of radiation are recommended.
Radiotherapy is an important part of cancer treatment and can be a highly effective treatment for cancer as well as other disorders. Although it doesn’t cause immediate shrinking of cancerous tumors but can subsequently give beneficial effects. It may cause side-effects in some patients that are easily manageable and go away on their own within few months of the therapy.Authored By : DR. Manish Vaish
Dr Manish Vaish - Neurosurgeon
Neurosurgeon NCR, Delhi
Dr. Yashpal Bundela MS Mch
Dr.Girish Rajpal MS Mch FINR
Dr. Shiwani Jain MD FNB
PDFC (Neuro-anaesthesia and Critical care)
Dr Hrishikesh Chakrabartty
Dr.Praveen Kumar MS Mch
Dr. Manish Marda MD DM