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Doctor insights on: Radiation Therapy

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Dr. Bahman Daneshfar
289 doctors shared insights

Radiation Therapy (Overview)

Radiation therapy is a common cancer treatment with the potential to have harmful side effects on a patient or her child.


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What is radiation therapy?

What is radiation therapy?

Kill cancer by Rads: Use of high energy x-ray typically ( protons, gamma rays etc to name a few other) to cause irreparable damage to a target tumor to destroy the tumor while causing minimal damage to surrounding organs and tissues. ...Read more

Dr. Bahman Daneshfar
289 doctors shared insights

Radiation Therapy (Overview)

Radiation therapy is a common cancer treatment with the potential to have harmful side effects on a patient or her child.


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Can you tell me exactly when is radiation therapy used to treat cancer and when is chemotherapy used?

Can you tell me exactly when is radiation therapy used to treat cancer and when is chemotherapy used?

Local v. Systemic Rx: Cancer rx involves treating the organ where the cancer developed (local rx) as well as any cancer cells that may have broken away from the organ of origin and travelled elsewhere in the body (systemic rx). In general, surgery and radiation therapy are local rx whereas chemotherapy is designed to circulate throughout the body and kill cancer cells. Ideally, these 3 modalities work together for cure. ...Read more

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Is radiation therapy painful?

Is radiation therapy painful?

No: Radiation is an x-ray which is invisible and painless. It's side effects depending on where and what organs are being treated could lead to discomfort or pain. ...Read more

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Is there a way to tell if my radiation therapy is working?

Is there a way to tell if my radiation therapy is working?

Not always: This depends on if you can see or feel the cancer physically or your doctor sees the tumor on setup x-rays. In these cases you could see the tumor shrinking and as such it is working. In many cases we are treating cancer that are too small to see even on x-rays and the therapy is based in studies that have shown radiation will work. Over time you are examined and xrayed to verify how it worked. ...Read more

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Can you tell me about chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies, and transplantation.?

Can you tell me about chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies, and transplantation.?

All to treat cancer: Various approaches are employed to manage Ca, especially those with metastasis. Chemo is most commonly employed targeting cell cycle and DNA repair mechanisms. Radiation is also used to attack large inop tumors or residual tumor in the tumor bed. Target therapies are usually immunogenic agents targeting various growth factors and immunogenic proteins. Transplantation replaces damaged marrow ...Read more

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If I have colon cancer and get radiation therapy, can I safely have sex with my husband?

If I have colon cancer and get radiation therapy, can I safely have sex with my husband?

Yes: Once you leave the radiation room there is no radiation left in you to effect your husband. As long as you do not have discomfort in the abdomen, pelvis or genitals there is no reason you can not have sex. ...Read more

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Is it dangerous for a pregnant woman to go near someone that is undergoing cancer radiation therapy?

Is it dangerous for a pregnant woman to go near someone that is undergoing cancer radiation therapy?

Typically, no: The most common way people receive radiation therapy is with external beam treatment. If this was the case, there is no risk of radiation exposure to anyone after each treatment session. It is very similar to getting an x-ray. If there was any implanted radiation or ingested or injected radiation, there may be concerns of radiation exposure. If you are not certain of the type of radiation, ask. ...Read more

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What different types of radiation therapy are there? My mom is going through some radiation therapy, I am curious to how many different types are out there and what are the pros and cons

What different types of radiation therapy are there? My mom is going through some radiation therapy, I am curious to how many different types are out there and what are the pros and cons

This : This is a huge topic of discussion and there are entire textbooks on different types of radiation. In terms of therapeutically used radiation here in the us, the majority of the radiation is photon beam. These are high-energy x-rays. Electrons are also used commonly, often when needing to treat an area close to the skin (a scar or a skin cancer). Neutrons are used in very rare circumstances in a few locations in the us, for rare tumors. Protons are available in some cities - which are beneficial for some rare pediatric tumors or rare eye tumors in that the beam can be shaped and directed a bit more conformally. Some are using protons for other cancers, and this is debated often in our field. This is partly because it is a very expensive treatment and in some cases data showing a benefit is not present. Gamma rays are a type of photon beam. There are different brand names and vendors of radiation machines, which can add to confusion as well - for example gammaknife, cyberknife, tomotherapy, are all types of photon beam radiation. ...Read more

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What are radio protectants, and can they decrease my side effects from radiation therapy?

See below: Radioprotectants are really only useful if they offer differential radioprotection to normal tissues and not tumor cells. That's really the problem. A general radioprotectant would benefit the cancer cells as much as normal cells thus you haven't changed the therapeutic ratio. ...Read more

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Do the leupron shots that are started before radiation therapy really help the cancer cells (prostate )shrink at all? What is the data with this?

Do the leupron shots that are started before radiation therapy really help the cancer cells (prostate )shrink at all? What is the data with this?

Sort of: Lupron (leuprolide) injections do help shrink prostate overall size if given prior to radiotherapy. I think this is a general prostate effect, not just a specific tumor cell effect. It does help minimize side effects related to radiotherapy by shrinking the overall target volume, allowing less tissue to be irradiated. ...Read more

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What should I expect after radiation therapy for head and neck cancer?

What should I expect after radiation therapy for head and neck cancer?

Dry mouth: Depending on the radiation field.. Dry mouth is very common, hoarseness, and tightening of the skin of the neck. Sometimes difficulty swallowing. ...Read more

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Does prior radiation therapy cause IgG and lamba spike in bloodwork.

XRT for what?: An igg with lambda spike is a cardinal sign of multiple myeloma. See your doctor for this. ...Read more

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Does radiation therapy for testicular cancer make you sterile?

Does radiation therapy for testicular cancer make you sterile?

Not usually: We test the viability of the sperm and sperm bank ahead of radiation treatments. In most cases the radiation is not over the remaining testicle and a lead globe is placed around that testicle. In my experience every patient i treated who wanted a child later on had one. But if you want to be 100 percent sure you have to sperm bank. ...Read more

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Would I still be able to have children in the future after radiation therapy?

Would I still be able to have children in the future after radiation therapy?

Depends: Radiation can reduce fertility depending on the tissues radiated in the pelvis (ovaries, uterus, testes, prostate, etc.), the dose they received and whether your also were treated with other therapies that can cause infertility (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, surgery.). ...Read more

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If my mom's stage 3b lung cancer is responding well to radiation therapy, is it likely that she will recover completely?

If my mom's stage 3b lung cancer is responding well to radiation therapy, is it likely that she will recover completely?

Possibly.: The answer is in the statistics. There is a 15 to 20 percent chance of cure with radiation and chemotherapy. 10 percent with just radiation for stage iiib (3b). Therefore how do you define likely? Even if not cured she can actually recover? (from pain or breathing problems or bleeding) and do well for months to years but then not recover when the cancer comes back. ...Read more

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Is it normal to be bloated and feel a lot of abdominal pain during radiation therapy?

Is it normal to be bloated and feel a lot of abdominal pain during radiation therapy?

Yes: If treating in the abdomen with radiation, the intestines and stomach are rather sensitive. We see nausea, diarrhea, bloating and all of this can lead to feeling pain and discomfort. The level of this is patient dependent. Some feel very little while someone else gets the full enteritis that can even be seen on ct scans. We use various medications to treat these symptoms to complete treatment. ...Read more

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What does it mean when blood comes out of my penis. I had radiation therapy prior to removal of cancerous prostate and bladder.

What does it mean when blood comes out of my penis. I had radiation therapy prior to removal of cancerous prostate and bladder.

Get it evaluated: After radiation some local irritation is present in tissues near prostate location, including bladder, urethra or rectum. If you are on blood thinners, sometimes blood is seen in urine or rectum. Often transient or self limited. However, blood in urine can be sign of other bad things like bladder tumor, or other conditions like one passing a kidney stone etc. Get it evaluated. ...Read more

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Can radiation therapy cause bleeding?

Yes: Often radiation is used to stop bleeding, such as coughing up blood from a lung cancer, or bleeding from the vagina from a cervix or vaginal cancer. However if the skin in an area peels excessively or the linings of the oral or intestinal tract such as the rectum can bleed temporarily and often heal. However long term changes can lead to periodic bleeding from an area such as the rectum. ...Read more

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What is radiation therapy?

Kill cancer by Rads: Use of high energy x-ray typically ( protons, gamma rays etc to name a few other) to cause irreparable damage to a target tumor to destroy the tumor while causing minimal damage to surrounding organs and tissues. ...Read more

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Is radiation therapy painful?

No: Radiation is an x-ray which is invisible and painless. It's side effects depending on where and what organs are being treated could lead to discomfort or pain. ...Read more

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What is radiation therapy useful for?

What is radiation therapy useful for?

To cure some: Cancers (vocal cord, cervix, prostate etc), preserve organs and their functions (sarcoma, h&n, breast, rectums), partner with other treatments to improve risk or prevent recurrence (lymphoma, lung cancer, prophylactic cranial irradiation in small cell). And relieve symptoms to palliate metastasis. ...Read more

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What is the cost of radiation therapy?

What is the cost of radiation therapy?

Tech + Pro: The equipment and those that run it and plan your treatment and deliver it daily are covered as a medicare technical charge. The doctor the perscibes and monitors is a second aspect. Together technical and professional charges. Each have cpt - codes for charges. The tech charge pays salaries and depreciation costs for equipment. Doc fees for their expertise. ...Read more

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What is the goal of radiation therapy?

Cure or Palliation: Depending on the extent of disease involvement and type of tumor being treated, the goal is either curitive or palliative. ...Read more

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Will someone explain radiation therapy?

Will someone explain radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy: Is the use of x-rays to treat cancer. Radiation works by damaging the dna of dividing cells. Since cancer is uncontrolled cell growth, radiation is more effective on cancer cells than normal cells. Radiation has been used for cancer treatment since the late 1800s. It's use depends on cancer location, type, and stage. Unlike chemotherapy, it is a local treatment that only effects the area treated. ...Read more

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What are the problems of radiation therapy?

Your question is: Impossibly broad. Radiation effects normal tissue function passaged by entry and exit beams, but these vary with the disease treated, region of the body, dose/treatment, total dose, area/volume treated. If the organ is not in the treatment field, it will not be affected. ...Read more

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How many weeks does radiation therapy last?

How many weeks does radiation therapy last?

0-7 weeks.: The most common method for treating breast cancer is external beam rt ("outside-in") given over 7 weeks; this can be accelerated over 4 weeks in some settings. Brachytherapy is an option for some patients, where the rt is given from the "inside-out" over 5 days. A handful of centers are now offering intraoperative rt, popularized in europe, where the rt is given over minutes during lumpectomy. ...Read more

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Can radiation therapy increase cell growth?

No and Yes: Radiation therapy slows or stops cell growth. The goal is of course to kill cancer cells and they don't grow and die. However if you look up the four r's of radiation biology. The last one is repoplulation in which during fractionated radiation cells increase growth to repopulate. Luckily we see this more often in the good cells but unfortunately in some cases resistant cancer cells. ...Read more