Radiation for Lung Cancer
When it comes to cancer treatment, radiation therapy is one of the most popular treatment methods. It is also known as radiotherapy and it uses high-energy ionizing radiation to kill the cancer cells and control the growth of the cells.
It has been seen that radiation along with chemotherapy is highly effective in controlling and curing small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
When a person has to undergo radiotherapy, the affected part of the lung is exposed to high-energy ionizing beam. This beam is instrumental in damaging the cancer cells and as a result they cannot propagate. Cancer cells are known to multiply rapidly and can easily spread to other parts of the body.
Radiation for lung cancer is of two types, namely external beam radiation and internal radiation. External beam radiation therapy involves using an external machine to bombard the affected part of the lung with high doses of high-energy ionizing beams, while internal radiation involves using a catheter to transport the radioactive drug to the affected part of the lung.
A person with lung cancer usually has to have radiotherapy everyday for around 6 weeks. Each session is not very long and lasts just for a few minutes. The best part is that this therapy is virtually pain-free.
If the lung cancer is at an advanced stage, doctors can also give radiotherapy as a palliative treatment. Here the aim is to reduce the pain and control the rampant growth of the cancer cells. The aim is not cure. Palliative radiation is often used when the cancer from the lungs metastasizes to the brain or spinal cord.
The latest innovation in radiation for lung cancer is sterotactic radiation. Here the high doses of radiation are directly given to the lung cancer. It is considered to be a good alternative to surgery wherein a part of the lung is removed. Stereotactic radiation is often used for seniors or patients with other diseases and ailments.
Like all cancer treatments, even radiation for lung cancer has side effects. It can cause esophagitis, which is inflammation of the esophagus, pneumonitis, hair loss, skin problems like erythema or puritis, headaches, nausea, vomiting and/or memory loss.
However, radiation to treat lung cancer is often the best way to treat the malignancy as it causes least damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Nonetheless, make sure you check with your doctor about all the pros and cons before opting for this treatment protocol.