What is radiation therapy?
There are a number of options to treat cancer, radiation therapy is just one of them. There are a number of ways in which radiation can be delivered. The method that is used to treat your individual type of cancer is dependent solely on the nature of your cancer. External beam therapy delivers radiation directly to the tumor through a machine known as a linear accelerator, from outside your body.
How does it work?
Radiation treatment targets cancer cells during treatment however this does not mean that the healthy cells around the area won’t be affected by treatment. Thankfully, radiation treatment has the greatest affect on the cancerous cells. Treatment using a LINAC system delivers the highest amount of radiation treatment that can be safely given, to the cancerous area. This treatment is aimed at killing cancer cells. Sometimes smaller doses of radiation are given. This is usually the case where doctors are hoping to shrink the tumor and offer relief to the patient vs attempting to “cure” the patient.
Who takes care of the patient?
A doctor that specializes in cancer is referred to as a radiotherapist or radiation oncologist. They are in charge of planning and overseeing treatment that will be administer by a radiation therapist. A number of specialists will be involved in treating your cancer including: nurses, specialists, counselors, health care aids, and dietitians, depending on your unique needs.
Where is the treatment received?
Treatment and delivery are designed with each unique patient in mind. Treatment is performed in a hospital or clinic and is done in a manner that is suited to the persons receiving its particular needs. A preliminary visit is scheduled in order to plan out your treatment plan. The radiation oncologist and therapists will do this. Using a simulator, x-rays, and scans skin is marked using different colored pens that help define the placement of treatment. Permanent marks can be made using a special dye or tiny pin prick if needed.
Each of these marks allows the therapists administering radiation to ascertain the exact area that needs to be treated during each and every treatment session. If you are using a head shell, the guidance marks will be added to the shell rather than to your skin. Radiation treatment can also be delivered to the mouth and throat area. If this is the case a dental assessment will be done, along with necessary dental treatments and then radiation therapy can begin.
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