When Is Radiation Therapy Used?
One of the most widely used treatment for cancer management in the modern age is radiation therapy. It involves the use of high-energy ionizing radiation, such as X-rays or gamma rays, produced by radioactive materials or radiation generators. Through this radiation, the aim is to target and destroy cancer cells in the body.
Not all cancers require radiation treatment, but a good number of cancers need to be treated with radiation at some point during the course of treatment. Whether radiation therapy will be used for a patient depends on the type, stage, and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health.
Radiation therapy is mainly used to treat cancer locally; however, in some cases, it can also be used as a systemic treatment. Systemic radiation therapy involves the use of radioactive materials that travel throughout the body to kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
The Evolution of Radiation Therapy Machines
There are several machines used in radiation treatment. Deep X-ray therapy is one which, although no longer used nowadays, was previously an essential. There is also the Cobalt-60, another old model with limited use. Other machines include the widely used linear accelerator, the high-end Cyber Knife whose use is limited, the Gamma Knife, and the highly sophisticated Proton Beam Therapy which is also used in a limited capacity. Other machines used for radiation therapy include LDR and HDR brachytherapy machine.
Radiation therapy can be delivered using different modalities, such as 2D, 3D-CRT, IMRT, VMAT/Rapid Arc, IGRT, SRS/SRT, SBRT, TBI, and Brachytherapy. These are treatment planning techniques used for suitable patients, depending on the type and location of the cancer.
Although there is no feeling of pain during radiation therapy, it does come with side effects. These include skin pigmentation, sometimes excoriation, and region-wise complaints such as difficulty in swallowing when treatment is given to the neck region. The side effects vary depending on the organ or region being treated.
Radiation Therapy in Bangladesh: Affordability and Availability
The cost of radiation therapy depends on the machine used, treatment planning modality, and quality assurance issues. It is a product of teamwork. Fortunately, compared to other countries, radiation treatment is not very expensive in Bangladesh.
In fact, almost all facilities of radiation treatment are available in Bangladesh. Patients can access various types of radiation machines and treatment planning techniques in different hospitals and cancer centers across the country.
Radiation therapy is a valuable treatment option for cancer management. It is a local treatment that targets cancer cells and can be used in combination with other cancer treatments.
The type of radiation machine and treatment planning modality used may vary depending on the patient’s specific cancer type, location, and stage. It is important for patients to understand the potential side effects of radiation therapy and work closely with their healthcare team to manage any side effects that may occur.
Dr. Biswajit Bhattacharjee
Senior Consultant – Clinical & Radiation Oncology