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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a serious condition which is caused by the uncontrolled multiplication of the cells in the lungs. This can spread to other parts of the body in severe condition. The choice from different treatments available like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and so on will depend on the extent of spread and the health conditions of the patient.

While using radiation therapy, high energy beam will be focused on the area affected by cancer. This beam has the ability to damage the DNA of the cancer cells. This will disable the cells from multiplying further. The cells will get destroyed and the possibility of them spreading and affecting other parts of the body will get nullified. This treatment can be classified as external beam radiation and internal beam radiation.

In the former, a machine outside the body will deliver the high energy beam to be focused on the tumor. In the later, a thin tube made of plastic will be inserted in to the body which will act as a passage for the transfer of radioactive material to the tumor.

Radiation therapy will be administered to the patient for an average period of six weeks on a daily basis. This treatment is painless and lasts only for a few minutes in every sitting. Different types of radiation treatment are:

Palliative radiation: This aims at curbing the growth of cancer cells and reducing the pain associated with lung cancer. This is usually administered in the terminal stage of lung cancer when the aim is to reduce the pain than to treat the cancer. Often, this treatment is recommended if the cancer spreads to the spine or brain and causes harm on a much higher scale compared to the side-effects due to radiation therapy.

Stereotactic radiation: This radiation therapy delivers high dosage of radiation directly to the tumor in the lung. The success rate of this surgery is more as compared to traditional surgery using incision. Elderly people or those suffering from other ailments are usually recommended this treatment.

Proton radiation: A high dosage of radiation is delivered to the area housing the tumor. The advantage of this treatment over other radiation therapies is that it does not cause damage to the cells or tissues surrounding the tumor. Proton radiation causes fewer side effects compared to other forms of radiation treatments.

Side-effects of radiation therapy include inflammation in esophagus, radiation infections, pneumonitis, loss of hair, skin problems, radiation poisoning, vomiting, headache, nausea, and lack of appetite.