How to get prepared for external radiotherapy

External radiation therapy is gaining recognition as an effective cancer treatment. Radiotherapy is a method of directing high energy radiations or x-rays into the body to treat cancers. Radiation oncologists use these x-rays to destroy the cancer cells, to control the growth of cancer and relieve painful symptoms. The x-ray beams generated outside the patient body are directly targeted to the tumor site from a treatment machine. This reduces the harmful effects of radiation on healthy cells and adjacent organs.

External radiotherapy is used for treating:

  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate gland cancer
  • Brain tumor
  • Neck and head cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Colorectal or bowel cancer

If you are considering treatment, you can expect the below steps:

Consultation:

Before undergoing treatment, you must first meet your radiation oncologist to confirm the treatment is right for you. The medical oncologist will perform a physical examination to know your need for treatment and finds out the likely results. Then, he judges your present general health condition by reviewing past medical reports, medications, past family and surgical history and allergies. After a thorough examination, your oncologist will discuss your treatment options and invites any queries from you regarding the treatment plan.

Radiation simulation:

During Simulation process, your radiotherapy treatment team determines an angle of the position which is comfortable to you plus allows for adequate treatment. The same position is used throughout the treatment, and soft cushions are used to hold your position during treatment.

The Precise treatment site is then marked using inks or small temporary tattoos. This helps your radiation therapy treatment team to pass the radiation directly to the treatment site (tumor site).

Treatment planning process:

After simulation, your radiation oncologists review the information received from simulation along with your existing medical tests report to develop a treatment plan. Dr. Monica Pansari, Surgical oncologist, Apollo clinic Koramangala, Bengaluru explains that radiologists use sophisticated treatment-planning computer software and highly technical calculations to develop best possible radiation plan. The whole process depends on CT/MRI scans to deliver right doses of radiation to the tumor site.

Follow-up appointments:

After your course of treatment is completed, your medical radiation oncologist asks you for regular follow-up visits. During these visits, you are given some instructions to be taken after treatment and follow up your progress of therapy on a regular basis. Your care team will also check for any radiation related problems in your body during follow-up care.

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