Radiation Oncology Therapy: How Radiation Therapy Is Used for Cancer Treatment

By Dr. Nagraj G. Huilgol in Nanavati Max Institute of Cancer Care , Head, Face and Neck Cancer Program

Apr 24 , 2023 | 5 min read

What is Radiation Oncology Therapy?

Radiation therapy, commonly known as radiotherapy, irradiation, or x-ray therapy, is a medical procedure used to treat patients suffering from cancer. Cancer is a progressive disease that is marked by the abnormal growth and accumulation of malignant cells in a particular organ of the body that gradually replaces all the healthy cells leading to severe organ damage. The problem can affect people of any age group and may be inherited or acquired later in life. Radiation therapy targets cancer cells and destroys them. They not only kill the existing cells but also prevent new cells from growing. Radiation therapy is offered at all the leading Oncology Treatment Hospitals In Mumbai.

More About Radiation Oncology Therapy

Radiation oncology therapy is a vital procedure in cancer treatment since it stops the spread of cancerous cells into other organs. It prevents the progression of the cancer cells into a tumor which may be problematic to treat. Sometimes patients don't require surgery after radiation therapy since it can eradicate all cancer cells. Radiation oncology systems have the best equipment that targets the affected organ. It prevents damage to healthy cells, unlike in other treatments such as chemotherapy.

Also Read About Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Types of Radiation Therapy

Radiation oncology Therapy involves the use of high-energy radiations coming from x-rays, gamma rays or fast-moving tiny particles (called particle or proton beam therapy). Radiation therapy can be of two types depending upon whether the radiations are given from inside the patient's body or outside. The former is known as internal therapy and the later is known as external therapy. Internal therapy is carried out by placing the radioactive material inside the patient's body to target the cancerous cells directly whereas external therapy is carried out by using special equipment to direct a specific amount of radiation over the affected area. In some cases, both the therapies are to perform consecutively.

Why is Radiation Oncology Important?

Radiation oncology is also important in treating recurrent and remaining cancer cells. This treatment option is used to shrink tumors in early-stage cancer. Oncologists can combine radiation therapy and surgery to cure early-stage cancer when the disease is diagnosed early. It minimizes the chances of recurrence since radiation is exhaustive in killing cancer cells. Additionally, radiation therapy helps relieve symptoms of patients with advanced cancer in palliative care.

As per the Radiation Oncology Specialist in Mumbai, although radiation therapy can effectively help to kill the cancer cells, it can also harm the normal cells. Although the normal cells can recover from its effects, this might take time and affect the overall health of the child. Hence it is very important to make sure that the radiations are given in the right amount.

Oncology Doctors in Mumbai, Maharashtra specialise in both internal as well as external therapy. Kids have to go for regular therapies 4 to 5 days a week for several weeks or even months and are usually given very small doses to ensure minimal damage to normal cells. While the therapy is being given, the parents are not allowed to accompany their child. However, after the therapy, you can touch and hug your child.

As such there are no restrictions on contact with family for children undergoing external radiation therapy. However, kids undergoing internal radiation therapy may be subjected to some restrictions. Then internal therapy involves the placement of radioactive material inside the patient's body, the child continues to emit harmful radiation for some time. Exposure to these radiations can have a drastic impact on the parent's health. As such it is important to keep the child isolated for some time. Nanavati Max Hospital staff can visit the child for brief intervals. Parents may be allowed to visit the child after some hours. They may be asked to wear a mask and a gown. Young kids, pregnant women, elderlies and people suffering from chronic diseases will not be allowed to go inside.

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Radiation oncology treatment does have certain side effects. Apart from damaging healthy cells, it can also lead to skin problems fatigue and anaemia. Some of these will go away as the therapy ends and aren't usually serious. In some cases, the child might need additional treatment to control these. Some patients will not experience any side effects at all.

Undergoing radiation therapy surgery can be traumatic even for adults, let alone for children. Being a parent it is very natural for you to be concerned about your child. We recommend you discuss the whole procedure with a Radiation Oncologists In Mumbai in detail and learn about the various side effects. You may also take your child to the radiation department of the hospital and let him/her meet the technologists to become familiar with the equipment and staff. If your child asks you any questions about the treatment, be truthful. Don't hide anything from them. You can also take your child for counselling sessions. This can help to relieve their stress. It can be really hard for you at times but it is harder for your child. So make sure that you do not let your worries show in front of your child and offer them all the moral support that they need.

The Future of Radiation Oncology Therapy

The future of radiation oncology is dependent on the measures being used to reduce cancer cases. Stakeholders in cancer treatment are focusing on preventive and early detection of cancer. Educating people to avoid risk factors should be focused on as it could reduce cancer cases, resulting in fewer individuals needing radiation oncology treatment. Early detection means using other non-invasive cancer treatments; hence fewer cases require basic radiation oncology. On the other hand, improvement in the modern technology of radiation oncology is the objective to ensure the procedure is less invasive and more accurate, especially with the predicted increase in cancer cases.

Medically Reviewed

Dr. Nagraj Huilgol (Chief of Radiation)

Dr. Nagraj Huilgol is the Chief of Radiation Oncology at Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital and a pioneer in the field of radiation oncology with an experience of over 47 years. He has received the honourable Haldar Memorial Oration by Association of Radiation Oncologist of India. He specialises in procedures such as stereotactic radiosurgery, astrocytoma treatment, breast cancer treatment, prostate cancer treatment, Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy among others.