Radiotherapy is a type of ionising radiation (high energy) that destroys the cancer cells and a few benign lesions (non-cancerous) in the treated area by damaging the DNA of those cells. It uses radiation, usually x-rays, to treat cancer cells. Radiotherapy can be broadly categorized as Conventional Radiotherapy and Conformal Radiotherapy.
It can be used to cure cancer, reduce the chance of cancer coming back or to help relieve symptoms. It can be merged with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. Nearly 50 out of 100 patients have radiotherapy at some point during their cancer treatment.
Radiotherapy is given daily five days a week (Monday to Friday) and two days’ rest (Saturday and Sunday) for normal cells to rest. Treatment may be occasionally given on Saturdays also. In certain treatment types like SBRT the treatment is done every alternate day for about 3-10 fractions. SRS and SRT can be done in 1-5 fractions. Sometimes a conventional fractionation is also used. For best treatment results you should avoid any treatment gaps. If you wish to discontinue radiation for any social reason or side effects please ensure you meet your treating doctor first and discuss with them how to restart your radiation treatment as early as possible.
Radiotherapy is commonly given in following circumstances:
Here the intention of radiation therapy is to get rid of cancerous disease completely. This radiation treatment can be anywhere between 3-7 weeks of duration. Curative Radiotherapy can be given alone or along with concurrent chemotherapy.
Many times, the tumour is removed by surgery however the pathology report shows certain features indicating that the disease is aggressive and may come back. In order to avoid the disease coming back, Postoperative radiation therapy is given. This radiation treatment may last for 3 -6 weeks. Here also it can be given alone or with concurrent chemotherapy.
Sometimes the tumor is big and difficult to remove completely. In order to downstage the tumor preoperative radiotherapy is given. Radiotherapy given here can decrease the tumor size and thus making it easier to be removed completely by surgery later on. This treatment may last for 4-5 weeks. Here also it can be given alone or with concurrent chemotherapy.
Many of the times the tumour is very big and is causing lot of problems like pain, bleeding, pressure at important points etc and thus radiotherapy is given to relieve these symptoms as early as possible. This radiotherapy is planned in best possible shortest way lasting from 1- 10 fractions.