Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy)
Radiotherapy is an option for patients suffering from mesothelioma. Unlike chemotherapy it a treatment that is used to treat only the area where the cancer is growing rather than the whole body. It involves using a high dosage of localized radiation on malignant tumors. The process is not unlike capturing an x ray of the affected area except that the dosage of radiation used is much higher. Nevertheless the procedure is painless.
It works by destroying the cancer cells in the treated area. It affects healthy cells in these areas as well, but usually the damage is temporary, because healthy cells are generally more resilient than cancer cells.
Usually the treatment is broken into in sessions (called fractions) in which radiation is administered once a day for the duration of a five day work week. Than typically the five day regimin is followed by a two day break that allows the healthy cells time to recover.
Radiotherapy often causes side effects resulting from damage to healthy cells. Usually the patients experience fatigue and skin changes. However, side effects are temporary and when treatment ends, and the non-cancerous cells recover, these side effects will disappear.
Radiotherapy is rarely used alone to combat mesothelioma but rather is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. It sometimes can prove effective shrinking tumor size and reducing symptoms common to mesothelioma patients such as shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain.
Though radiotherapy is usually administered externally, or from with out the body, it sometimes can be administered internally. New techniques have been developed in which a radioactive pill may be surgically implanted in or near the tumor mass. The pill deteriorates over time, but in the process destroys the cancer cells around it. Internal radiotherapy may also be given in a liquid form that is taken orally or injected intravenously into the blood stream.
Depending on the size of the tumor and its proximity to vital organs radiotherapy may not be appropriate in all situations.
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