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Doctor insights on: Why Does Radiation Therapy Weaken The Immune System

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Does radiation therapy weaken people's immune systems?

Does radiation therapy weaken people's immune systems?

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

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Gamma Rays (Definition)

This is light of extremely short wavelengths typically produced either among the stars / in cosmic rays or by radioactive element decay. Gamma rays form the background of normal radiation in which we all live; it is substantially greater than the exposure we get from imaging scans or should get from ...Read more


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Doesn't radiation therapy increase cancer cell growth?

Doesn't radiation therapy increase cancer cell growth?

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

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Is there a reason I can't take antioxidants while I'm getting radiation therapy?

Is there a reason I can't take antioxidants while I'm getting radiation therapy?

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

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Why can't my father be around my children while he's having radiation therapy for his prostate?

Why can't my father be around my children while he's having radiation therapy for his prostate?

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

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Is there a point at which radiation therapy for cancer doesn't help enough to make the side effects worth it?

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

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Is nuclear medicine considered internal radiation therapy? For some reason, it seems like all the definitions of internal radi don't include nuclear.

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

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For what reason aren't patients shielded when they are receiving radiation therapy?

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

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I had my prostate taken out my psa rose now a I'm due to have radiation therapy what are they going to radiate I don't have a prostate?

To the bed of. ..: Your condition is rising psa after definitive rx with radical prostate removal, which is relatively common in up to almost 1/3 after such surgery. The plan to radiate is termed as salvage radiation under assumption of local recurrence after updated imaging study shows no suspicion for metastasis. But no spread as reported in imaging studies doesn't mean absolutely no microscopic metastasis. ...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

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How long is the average radiation therapy session?

How long is the average radiation therapy session?

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

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Can patients getting radiation therapy still exercise?

Can patients getting radiation therapy still exercise?

Yes: Listen to your body. Cardiovascular exercise specially encouraged. Your energy may run out quicker than it did. Stay hydrated and get rest as needed. Avoid chlorinated pool swimming and hut tubs that can dry up skin in women that are getting their breast radiated. ...Read more

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Is it normal for my head to swell after radiation therapy?

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

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Is it possible for doctors to accidentally overdose someone on radiation therapy?

Is it possible for doctors to accidentally overdose someone on radiation therapy?

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

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Does radiation therapy cause dental problems?

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

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How will radiation therapy affect my sex life?

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

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Can radiation therapy help reduce the pain of cancer?

Can radiation therapy help reduce the pain of cancer?

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

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Is there any way to reverse the side effects of radiation therapy?

Is there any way to reverse the side effects of radiation therapy?

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

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Can you please tell me how radiography and radiation therapy differ?

Can you please tell me how radiography and radiation therapy differ?

See answer: Radiology (radiography) uses relatively low levels of ionizing radiation for medical imaging to diagnose a disease. Radiation therapy uses higher more intense levels of energy to actually treat disease, usually malignancy. ...Read more

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How can radiation therapy kill cancerous cells while leaving the good cells?

How can radiation therapy kill cancerous cells while leaving the good cells?

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

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Dr. Bahman Daneshfar
286 Doctors shared insights

Radiation Therapy (Definition)

Radiation therapy is a common cancer treatment with the potential to have harmful side effects on a ...Read more