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Is Radiotherapy the Best Treatment for Cancer?

there is consensus among the medical community regarding radiation therapy being an ideal treatment for cancer.

ABP Digital Brand Studio Published 23.06.22, 11:04 PM
Radiotherapy Therapy

Radiotherapy Therapy

One of the most widely used treatments for cancer today is radiotherapy or radiation therapy. According to statistics, currently about 60% of patients diagnosed with cancer in India will require radiation as part of their treatment. However, there are still many questions in the minds of patients about this therapy. Such as, at what stage of cancer is radiotherapy effective? Is this procedure painful? How successful is radiotherapy in the fight against cancer? Head of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Apollo Multispeciality Hospitals, Dr Tanweer Shahid gives us the answers.

What is Radiation therapy or radiotherapy? Dr Shahid says, “Radiation is high energy X-rays which are directly focused on the patient’s tumour cells. It attacks the cells directly and causes damage to the cancer cells inside the tumour.” Radiation works by breaking down the water inside the affected cells, turning it into compounds that kill the tumour cells from the inside out.

According to Dr Shahid, there is consensus among the medical community regarding radiation therapy being an ideal treatment for cancer. Likewise, it is often used in conjunction with other therapies such as chemotherapy or surgery. However, a valid question that arises is, does radiotherapy also damage the good cells of the body like chemotherapy? The answer is that in many cases, radiotherapy does damage healthy cells, particularly in areas adjacent to the tumour cells, but this is not permanent and the cells do renew themselves. Also, as the treatment is highly targeted, doctors apply it only to the tumour and there are no other generalised side effects, like hair loss, elsewhere in the body.

What are the stages of cancer where radiotherapy can be used? There are a number of different cases where the oncologist might use radiotherapy. Firstly, it is used as a main treatment for cancer. It can also be used in conjunction with surgery: pre-surgery to reduce the size of a tumour or post-surgery to eradicate any remaining cancer cells. Finally, it also finds application in reducing the symptoms of end-stage cancer. Speaking of the duration of the treatment, Dr Shahid tells us that that is dependent on the stage of the cancer.

Finally let’s take a look at the side effects of this therapy. In Dr Shahid’s words, although there are certain side effects, these are neither major nor permanent. For example, there are no generalised side effects, no pain or discomfort in the affected area. Patients do experience localised skin pigmentation and hair loss in the area where the radiation is being applied. However, these effects vanish soon after the therapy is complete and the hair eventually grows back.

Physicians across the globe believe that a patient’s state of mind and mental well-being plays a key role in his or her fight against this disease. However, the stress and anxiety arising from constantly worrying about the quality of treatment one is getting can be detrimental to the patient. At Apollo Multispeciality Hospital, Kolkata, patients are given the best facilities, treatment and care, so that they can leave the worries and stress to the doctors and completely focus on getting better and beating cancer.

This report is published in a joint venture with Apollo Hospital Kolkata.

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