The Advantages and Disadvantages of Radiation

Advantages and Disadvantages of Radiation Therapy

Choosing a treatment plan after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make. Fortunately, it’s a decision you’ll never have to make alone. If your doctor believes you would benefit from radiation therapy, we’re here to walk you through every aspect of treatment at Beverly Oncology & Imaging, from how it’s administered to how you can prepare.

Understanding Your Cancer Treatment Options

Radiation therapy uses energy (most often X-rays or protons) to kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying.

Pros and Cons of Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy: Pros

Control or Stop the Growth of Your Tumor

Radiation therapy is one of the most popular forms of treatment because of its ability to kill cancer cells and prevent tumors from growing. Radiation can also work alone or with other forms of therapy. For example, it’s common to undergo radiation to shrink a tumor, then have surgery to remove it completely.

Outpatient Treatment

Radiation therapy tends to last no more than 30 minutes a session and doesn’t require you to stay in the hospital, meaning you can still enjoy your life at home, work, and visit with friends.

Radiation Therapy: Cons

Side Effects

The side effects of radiation therapy tend to depend on where you’re receiving radiation. They can also vary greatly from person to person — we’ve seen many people experience few to no side effects throughout their treatment.

  • Hair loss. Hair loss is common among most cancer treatments. Though hair often grows back after treatment, it can sometimes be permanent.
  • Skin irritation. If radiation is focused on one area of your body, that patch of skin may become sensitive, dry, or irritated.
  • Dry mouth, sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. These side effects may appear in patients receiving radiation on their chest.
  • Nausea, bladder infection, diarrhea, or frequent urination. Radiation directed toward your abdominal or pelvic region can cause stomach or bladder discomfort.

What is the Difference Between Radiation and Chemotherapy?

A significant difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy is the delivery method. In chemotherapy, the entire body is exposed to the treatment. Radiation therapy, on the other hand, is targeted only at the area of the body where the cancer is. Chemotherapy damages cancer cells while radiation therapy damages the DNA of the cancer cells, causing them to die. Chemotherapy generally causes more side effects than radiation therapy, such as hair loss, anemia, and severe nausea.

What Foods Should You Avoid During Radiation Therapy?

Certain types of food can be especially dangerous to radiation therapy patients. These foods include:

  • Salty foods. - any food with a high sodium content
  • Raw fish. - including clams, sushi, and oysters
  • Unpeeled vegetables and fruits. – the peels can contain bacteria that may increase the risk of gastrointestinal infection and may be hard to digest during treatment
  • Fried foods. – any fried foods can be especially difficult to digest and are best to avoid during treatment
  • Spicy foods. – any foods that are spicy can irritate the rectum and intestines and cause discomfort and cramping in the gastrointestinal tract

Frequent Trips to Treatment

Because we want to allow healthy tissue time between treatments to repair itself, treatments can be frequent — up to five times a week.

Beverly Oncology & Imaging offers state-of-the-art medical technology with greater convenience than hospitals can offer. We are leaders in our field, using cutting-edge technology like Rotating Gamma Technology™, External Beam therapy, and brachytherapy. Contact us today to discuss treatment options or to make an appointment.

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