Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment given to the patient to kill the cancer cells or to shrink the cancer tumor. The DNA of cancer cells is damaged slowly so that they become incapable of cell division and beyond repair. This process takes time to kill cancer cells, so the radiation therapy takes place for weeks or a month.
This therapy mainly has two types - external and internal.
External radiation therapy (ERT) is the mechanism that aims at cancer tumors to break the cells. The radiation machine is large and can be movable in 360° directions.
Internal radiation therapy is a treatment that can be both liquid and solid. Solid internal therapy is called brachytherapy / vaginal brachytherapy. This is a local treatment for specific parts of the body. This radiation will be given in a seed, ribbon, or capsule form to be injected inside the body to take it near the tumor.
Other types of radiation are 3D-CRT (3D conformal radiation therapy), Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), Volumetric modulated radiation therapy (VMRT), Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), Superficial x-ray radiation therapy (SXRT), and Intraoperative radiation therapy (IRT).
The application of these types of radiation are depending on the size of the tumor, type of cancer, location of the tumor in the body, age, a distance of the tumor from normal tissues, and medical history of patients. Radiation therapy can also be given in a combined way such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Depending on the stages of cancer and the chances to erase symptoms from their body.
If the radiation is combined with surgery it will be given prior to the patient to shrink their tumor before operating so that it can be removed easily. This therapy can also be given after their surgery to kill the cancer cells that are still remaining inside. Sometimes it is also given during the surgery so that the physician can protect nearby normal tissues without passing it through the skin.
The doses of the radiation are given to a particular area depending on the area that needs to be treated. In the same area, the radiation cannot be given for a second time if the distance between the areas is not large enough.
The side effects of this treatment are that they can damage the normal healthy cells also that are present around the cancer tumor.
The diets that they can follow during this treatment are high proteins and high calorie food. Many patients face issues during radiation treatment like nausea, mouth sores, and esophagitis. Huge weight loss happens during this treatment and may feel weak, because of that they need to follow a good diet as suggested by the physicians and nutritionists.