High-energy rays or particles are used in radiation therapy to eliminate cancer cells in a specific body location. Radiation can be used to treat stomach cancer in a variety of ways:
When and why do we employ radiation?
- Before surgery -Radiation and chemotherapy (chemo) can be used together before surgery for some malignancies to try to reduce the tumour and make surgery easier.
- After surgery- Radiation therapy can be utilised after surgery to destroy very small cancer remains that were not visible and removed during surgery. Radiation therapy, especially when paired with chemo medicines like 5-FU, can help patients live longer by delaying or preventing cancer return after surgery.
- Radiation therapy can help to halt the progression of advanced stomach cancer and alleviate symptoms like discomfort, bleeding, and feeding difficulties.
Stomach cancer is frequently treated with external beam radiation therapy. This treatment employs a machine outside the body to direct radiation at the tumour.
External beam radiation of various forms, such as three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), is frequently employed. Computers and specific techniques are used to focus the radiation on the tumour while limiting the damage to healthy tissues nearby.
The radiation team will take precise measurements before beginning your treatments to determine the optimal angles for aiming the radiation beams and the appropriate dose of radiation. This simulation planning session typically involves imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans. Radiation therapy is similar to obtaining an x-ray, except that the radiation is far more powerful. The procedure itself is completely painless. Each treatment is only a few minutes long, although the preparation period (getting you into position for treatment) is frequently longer. Treatments are often administered five days a week for several weeks or months.
SIDE EFFECTS OF RADIATION THERAPY
Radiation therapy for cancer treatment is notorious for its negative effects. The size of the region being treated, the specific area or organs being treated, the overall dose, and the treatment schedule are the key side effects of radiation therapy.
whether or not chemotherapy is administered together with radiation therapy (called chemoradiation)
1.Skin issues: The skin in the radiated area may turn red, blister, dry, peel, or change colour. The majority of skin reactions begin within the first two weeks of getting radiation treatment and fade within a few weeks, but some skin alterations, such as skin darkening or scarring, can last for months.
2.Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms are usually treatable with medication. The lower abdomen may be included in radiation therapy for stomach cancer. This can cause radiation enteritis by irritating the bowels (intestines), particularly the small intestine. Cramping and diarrhoea should be reported to the radiation therapy team. Your doctor may recommend medication to assist you deal with your diarrhoea.
3.Weight loss: Most individuals with stomach cancer are concerned about losing weight, and it is a common side effect of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can cause nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Weight loss may occur as a result of this during treatment. Even if your hunger has altered, it is critical to maintain your weight. Nutritional support aids the body's ability to fight disease and cope with the side effects of cancer treatment.
4.Hair loss: Hair loss (alopecia) is limited to the treatment region. Hair thinning or loss can happen in any location where radiation has been applied. The amount of hair loss and regrowth differs from person to person and is determined by the radiation exposure.
5.Blood cell levels that are too low: During radiation therapy, low blood cell counts (due to bone marrow suppression) might occur.
Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) increases the risk of bruising and bleeding.
Fatigue, paleness, and malaise are symptoms of anaemia, which is caused by a low red blood cell count.
Neutropenia, or a low white blood cell count, raises the risk of infection. When there is blood loss, radiation therapy usually affects white blood cells.
The action of radiation on the bone marrow causes low blood cell counts.
6.Fatigue: Fatigue is a feeling of overall depletion, tiredness, or lack of energy. It's one of the most common radiation therapy side effects. Anemia, a lack of appetite, or despair can all contribute to fatigue. It could possibly be linked to the poisonous compounds created when cancer cells die and break down. Because the body expends more energy to restore itself during radiation therapy, you may feel fatigued even if you sleep.
7.Kidney damage: A portion of one kidney may be in the area being treated for stomach cancer with radiation therapy. In some cases, the radiation may cause damage to that kidney. For patients who had two healthy kidneys before commencing radiation, this is usually not an issue. With one working kidney or even part of a kidney, a person can live a normal, healthy life.
8.Heart and lung damage: Because the heart and lungs are so close to the area being treated, radiation therapy for stomach cancer may cause damage to them. The heart, lungs, and other organs in the area are shielded as much as possible with special shielding.
9.Kidney damage: A portion of one kidney may be in the area being treated for stomach cancer with radiation therapy. In some cases, the radiation may cause damage to that kidney. For patients who had two healthy kidneys before commencing radiation, this is usually not an issue. With one working kidney or even part of a kidney, a person can live a normal, healthy life.
9.Second cancers: Radiation therapy causes a very tiny fraction of persons to get a second cancer. In most cases, the benefit of treating cancer outweighs the danger of acquiring a second cancer as a result of radiation therapy.