Radiation therapy uses controlled high-energy rays to treat tumours and other diseases of the body. The machine used to deliver this treatment is called a Linear Accelerator. Radiation is given:
- to destroy cancer tumours and cure the disease
- to relieve symptoms such as pain or seizures (known as palliative treatment)
- to prevent tumours from developing or spreading to surrounding organs (known as prophylactic treatment)
How does it work?
Radiation works by damaging the DNA inside cells making them unable to divide or reproduce. Abnormal cancer cells are more sensitive to radiation because they divide more quickly than normal cells. Over time, the abnormal cells die and the tumour shrinks. Normal surrounding cells can also be damaged by radiation but they can repair themselves more effectively.
Goal of Radiation Therapy
The goal of radiation therapy is to maximise the dose to abnormal cells while minimising the exposure to surrounding normal cells. The effects of radiation are not immediate and the treatment benefit occurs over some time. Radiation therapy is a painless treatment and will not cause the patient to be radioactive.
YOUR RADIATION TREATMENT JOURNEY
Step 1. Simulation and Treatment Planning
Before starting radiation therapy treatment, the patients is first required to undergo a simulation procedure. The simulation process is performed using a CT Simulator – CT Scanner machine with highly sophisticated software to localise the treatment area.
Step 2. Treatment Delivery
Radiation treatment is given using a machine called a Linear Accelerator. To receive the treatment, it is important that the patient remains still while lying on a treatment couch. The duration of each treatment session varies between different patients. When you come for your first treatment session, your radiographer will inform you how long each session will last.
Step 3. Treatment Course
A treatment course may consist of a single treatment session or up to five treatments session a week over a seven-week period depending on factors such as the part of body being treated and the aim of treatment. It is very important for patients not to miss their appointments because completing the treatment course within the stipulated time is essential for success.
Side effects of radiotherapy treatment vary from patient to patient and will depend on the particular part of the body that is being treated. Once you have completed your treatment, the side effects will start to ease off within two to three weeks depending on the severity of the side effects which include fatigue, loss of appetite and red or itchy skin over area of radiation.