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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

Dr. Bahman Daneshfar
289 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


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

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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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.

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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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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How would you prepare yourself before undergoing radiation therapy?

Fluid: Have plenty of fluid and anti nausea and vomiting agent and maybe take Motrin before radiation. ...Read more

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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

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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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Can radiation therapy cause nausea?

Can radiation therapy cause nausea?

Yes: Since radiation affects both normal and cancerous cells, if your GI tract or brain are in the path of the radiation beam, there is a good chance that nausea will develop. We have excellent drugs to prevent chemotherapy or radiation therapy induced nausea, however. ...Read more

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Can radiation therapy cause cancer?

Can radiation therapy cause cancer?

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

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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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Is radiation therapy only used for treating cancer?

No: There are other conditions and types of radiation that physicians treat. Example radioactive iodine for hyperthyroid patient. Keloid scars are prevented with radiation. Benign growths in various location are treated with radiation. ...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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How are chemotherapy and radiation therapy different?

How are chemotherapy and radiation therapy different?

X-rays versus drugs: Radiation is a beam of energy that comes from aimable machines through the air. Chemotherapy is drugs given into veins or by oral pills. So one goes through air and the other in the blood. ...Read more

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What kind of cancers can be cured by radiation therapy?

What kind of cancers can be cured by radiation therapy?

Some early stage: There are multiple, but here are just some examples of cancers that are sometimes cured by radiation alone: early stage prostate cancer, early stage head and neck cancer, early stage gastric malt lymphoma. ...Read more

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Is radiation therapy a branch of a radiologic tech degree?

Advanced degree: A radiation therapy technician must complete approved training program and take a certification examination. You can find out more information at

https://www. Arrt. Org/Certification/Radiation-Therapy ...Read more

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Could radiation therapy for my prostate be making me incontinent?

Could radiation therapy for my prostate be making me incontinent?

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

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What can be done to treat the side effects of radiation therapy?

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

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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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How long does it take for hair to grow back after radiation therapy?

Not applicable: Generally radiation dose not cause hair loss, only during brain radiation. This is usually an issue with chemotherapy after chemotherapy it usually takes 3 weeks to notice hair growth, but several months to "regain" your hair. ...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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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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What is it in radiation therapy that makes a person lose their hair?

What is it in radiation therapy that makes a person lose their hair?

Cellular division: Radiation stops the rapid division of cancer cells but also shuts down the growth of hair follicles, and sweat glands, and the cells that make up the lining of the gut. ...Read more

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Will my radiation cystitis go away once I'm done with radiation therapy?

Will my radiation cystitis go away once I'm done with radiation therapy?

Yes: Radiation cystitis means irritation of bladder because of radiation. It is usually short lived and should resolve within a couple of weeks after radiation. The severity depends on the amount of radiation and the volume being radiated. ...Read more

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How long does it take to start growing hair back after radiation therapy?

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

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What is the definition or description of: external beam radiation therapy?

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

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Can someone with a pacemaker, receive radiation therapy near the pacemaker?

Can someone with a pacemaker, receive radiation therapy near the pacemaker?

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

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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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Can radiation therapy mutate one form of cancer into a more aggressive form?

Can radiation therapy mutate one form of cancer into a more aggressive form?

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

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What amount does radiation therapy for a benign paraganglioma of the neck cost?

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

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Could radiation therapy for cancer cause other cancers in nearby organs later on?

Could radiation therapy for cancer cause other cancers in nearby organs later on?

Yes: It's one of the risks described in your consent form. This is also true about taking chemotherapy that other cancers are treatment related. However these risks are low and considered acceptable compared to the benefit that is expected from the treatment. ...Read more

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Are there any medications that can help treat the side effects of radiation therapy?

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