Doctor insights on:
Why Does Radiation Therapy Weaken The Immune System
Yes, but wait..: There is truth that radiotherapy alters immmunity. In the olden days, reactivation of quiescent tuberculosis occured. We note that after radiotherapy, the lymphocyte white cell population disappears or at least is markedly diminished for some time. Surprisingly, it does not lead to definable illness, and the lymphocyte poulation returns. Explains transient psoriasis benefits/changes. ...Read more
Shields are built in: Radiation therapy machines have the shields built in to them. These shape the radiation to fit the area of the body that needs to be treated and protects the rest. Additionally, it takes many inches if lead to block the radiation used for external beam treatment and a person cannot wear a shield thick enough to block the beam. ...Read more
Not really: When given appropiately, radiation helps with local control. Keeping the tumor from recurring where it started). But yes exposure to radiation can be a cause for second cancers- (tho rare) most commonly sarcomas in the area of the radiated tissue). ...Read more
Yes: Radiation takes advantage of free radicals formed in the field of radiation to cause dna damage targeted at cancer cells. Antioxidants are free radical scavengers, so they can potentially reduce the effectiveness of radiation treatments. It is best to avoid mega doses of antioxidants in the diet during and up to 6 weeks after radiation treatments. ...Read more
Seeds /y radioactive:
Radioactive seed implant of prostate makes your father slightly radioactive for about 6 months when the amount of radioactivity has decreased significantly. Children have young organs prone to injury from radiation.
Other forms of radiation like external beam radiation, imrt, igrt, cyberknife, high-dose-rate brachy therapy do not make your father radioactive. No risk to be around children. ...Read more
Is there a point at which radiation therapy for cancer doesn't help enough to make the side effects worth it?
Yes.: You don't always know if a treatment is going to work on a patient. If the cancer is too advanced and there is little hope of helping the patient the doctor needs to tell a patient and their family so they can consider hospice or comfort measures. Many times radiation actually is a comfort measure and given so their is no side effect but relief of the symptoms. ...Read more
Is nuclear medicine considered internal radiation therapy? For some reason, it seems like all the definitions of internal radi don't include nuclear.
Yes: Nuclear Medicine includes tests such as PET and other scans that can assess tumors & evaluate the function of various organs. It also includes giving radioisotopes by mouth or vein for the treatment of certain cancers (most commonly thyroid, lymphoma and bone mets) and hyperthyroidism. This is different than brachytherapy done by Radiation Oncologists in which radioactive seeds are put in a tumor ...Read more
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
A few minutes: 10-15 minutes on the machine, half of which is used to set the patient accurately in position. Radiation is given over a couple of minutes. ...Read more
Can I exercise while i’m having radiation therapy? I exercise almost every day, and I don’t feel right when I don’t. Now i’m about to start radiation therapy. Will I still be able to exercise?
Yes: Generally, we recommend maintaining activity during radiation therapy. Fatigue is a common complaint with radiation, active patients tend to do better. Most other symptoms with radiation therapy tend to be related to the area of the body treated. Side effects and overall recommendations would depend on region treated and if chemotherapy is required. Consult with your radiation oncologist. ...Read more
No: However if your head is noticeably swollen in your face and neck, the doctor needs to evaluate you for superior vena cava syndrome in which the cancer in the chest obstructed the flow out of the neck and head. This can happen even when getting radiation to the chest for lung cancer despite being the treatment for the syndrome as well. Another possibility would be developing venous thrombosis. ...Read more
Yes: Radiation has a prescription and dose that is variable depending on the cancer and stage. It certainly can be given wrong or errors made. However having side effects or complications does not automatically mean there was an overdosage. That's because many parts of the body are sensitive to radiation even at appropriate doses. Therefore side effects are treated all the time. ...Read more
Secondary Cancer: Radiation does cause cancer, but is also used to treat cancer in radiation oncology. The best data for this is from children treated with radiation and followed closely for many years. The data can be murky with other causes of cancer. However, in general, the risk of secondary malignancy is much less than 1% can take up to 20 years to develop. The benefit of radiation far outweighs this risk. ...Read more
Yes: Only radiation given directly through and to the teeth can cause this damage. Or radiation to salivary glands that dry the mouth cause teeth to decay as well. Otherwise radiation not in these area does not cause teeth problems. ...Read more
Unpredictable: Radiation has a hardening and drying effect over the skin of the treated area and my affect sweat glands and nerve endings causing lack of sensation or paresthesis (numbness, tingling). If radiation is placed inside the vagina will dry and harden the area. In short... Is unpredictable. ...Read more
Absolutely: Palliative radiation means alleviating symptoms. One of these symptoms is pain. It can be very effective and there a number of techniques and types of radiation. ...Read more
It is possible: This is unusual to occur as radiation may cause impotence but incontinence is not as common. I have seen it occur with brachytherapy (seeds) more often than in external beam. However patients were on the elderly side, over 75. More commonly the patient has a concurrent infection during or after radiation that when treated the incontinence resolves. Also if you have a TURP afterwards its likely. ...Read more
Depends: On the site of radiation. It is always important to try to eat as balanced as possible. If you have a sore mouth, tell your doctor. If fatigued ask if you are anemic. But still walk! Don't be a couch potato it just makes it worse. For sore /dry skin it depends at what course of treatment you are in. Ask your dr what you can put on it to make it better, as some things will make it worse. ...Read more
Depends: The most common side effect is fatigue. This will generally resolve on its' own over weeks to months after treatment. Exercise can help to speed up that recovery. Skin inflammation (radiation dermatitis) is also quite common, and also resolves on its' own. Using a natural anti-inflammatory skin cream (i.e. Calendula) can help. There are many possible side effects, so discuss these with your docs. ...Read more
Weeks, Months: Some patients have hair regrowth in a few weeks to months. Others, depending on the area treated may never have hair regrowth. ...Read more
Radiation can be: Delivered internally, using unsealed liquid sources or pellets or seeds implanted temporarily or permanently. More commonly, it is delivered by a machine that aims beams from the outside at targets located internally, and passes through healthy cells on entry and exit, as the # of beams increase, and focus on the target, the dose to healthy tissue diminishes. Ebrt is common. ...Read more
Atleast 5 cm away: It is not safe to be in direct field of radiation. 5 cm away usually offers acceptable drop of dose to make it safe for most pacemakers. At times we may ask to have the pacemaker moved out of the radiation field. ...Read more
It can.: By fractionation and avoiding as much of the good cells as possible. If you give a little radiation each day for weeks it allows good cells to repair dna damage over that 24 hour period between treatments. Cancer cells often lose this ability. With newer techniques we avoid as much of an organ as possible so sometimes we are so accurate we can give just one therapy because good cells were missed. ...Read more
Yes: In the way you asked the question it can. It depends on the dose. Low dose exposures can allow cells to survive and this could happen. In the treatment with radiation the cancer is treated to levels that are designed to kill the cells and therefore mutation to more aggression is not likely. There are many resistance cancers however and it is more likely the cancer is already aggressive. ...Read more
Depends: I am assuming you are asking about yourself or someone who also lives in the US, if you are in another country all bets are off (and I would not know). In the US it depends on your insurance - talk to them and they will tell you what YOUR expenses will be. If you are uninsured your doctor (or the business manager) can draft an estimate ...Read more
Yes: Depending on the side effects and where in the body radiation is given there are many remedies and medications. There will be over the counter medications or prescription medications. The doctor visits with the patient once or more a week to assess these side effects and provide the correct remedy. ...Read more
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