High-energy X-rays are used to eradicate testicular tumours. To inhibit the growth of malignant cells, patients are administered radiation in carefully controlled doses. It is mostly used to treat testicular malignancies that have spread to other parts of the body. It's frequently administered before or after surgery, or in combination with chemotherapy. The key advantage of this treatment is that it not only kills cancer cells but also helps to relieve pain and other cancer symptoms.
When radiation therapy is delivered externally, a machine called a linear accelerator is utilised, however when radiation therapy is given internally, a radioactive isotope is put in the patient's body.
External beam radiation is utilised in practically all cases of testicular cancer. In the treatment of seminomas, radiotherapy is used after surgery to prevent cancer recurrence or metastasis.
Radiation treatment options for testicular cancer
The testes, as well as lymph nodes in the abdomen and pelvis, are the primary targets of radiation therapy for testicular cancer cells. The types of radiation therapy used to treat testicular cancer are as follows:
- External beam radiation treatment (EBRT) is a type of radiation therapy that uses a beam of light to treat
External beam radiation therapy uses an X-ray machine called a linear accelerator to guide a beam of radiation externally to kill malignant tissues in the body. It is used to shrink tumours and eliminate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes and other regions of the body in the treatment of testicular cancer.
During EBRT, the machine emits radiation beams into the locations where tumours or cancer cells are present. The equipment revolves around the user, emitting radiation from all angles and orientations. To avoid the negative effects of harming healthy blood cells, higher and more precise doses are used.
2. IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) is a treatment for recurrent testicular cancer in which the radiation is delivered externally using a linear accelerator. However, with this treatment, the accelerator distributes radiation in directions and angles that correspond to the tumor's 3D geometrical shape. Patients who have not been totally treated with lower doses of radiation are given accurate and high doses of radiation. The benefit of this treatment is that it decreases the amount of healthy cells that are exposed to radiation due to its exact accuracy.
3. Tomotherapy is a treatment that combines intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with a computed tomography (CT) scan in one machine. This gadget is cutting-edge, and it can assist in the delivery of radiation to tumours with complex forms. The CT scan validates the tumor's shape, size, and location, while tomotherapy limits the amount of radiation that reaches healthy tissues and organs.
Radiation therapy side effects
Radiation therapy side effects occur when healthy blood cells in the body are damaged, and when excessive doses of radiation are provided, the body may experience unfavourable effects. Short-term side effects fade after one to two weeks of treatment, but the patient must live with long-term side effects for an extended period of time. Doctors must be consulted as soon as any negative side effects are noticed.
- In the radiated areas, the skin peels and blisters (rare)
- Appetite loss and weight loss
- Bladder issues
- Infections are more likely to occur in the patient (due to lower white blood cell count)
- Anemia is a condition in which a person (due to lower red blood cell count)
- Blood clotting problems, easy bleeding, and bruising (caused due of low platelet count)
- Swelling and soreness
Radiation's long-term negative effects in the treatment of testicular cancer include:
- Blood vessel damage: High doses of radiation harm healthy blood vessels and cause a reduction in blood count.
- Damage to kidneys: When radiotherapy is directed towards the kidneys, it can cause renal failure, which is a condition in which the kidneys are unable to filter waste from the body.
- Cardiac effect: High doses of radiation cause high blood pressure and heart rhythm abnormalities, which raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Hormonal imbalances: In patients who require a larger dose of chemotherapy, radiation therapy is sometimes combined with chemotherapy. The body's testosterone levels become unbalanced as a result of this.
- Infertility: When radiation is given to or near the testicles, it may result in low sperm production in the long run.
- Development of other cancers: Men who have undergone radiation for testicular cancer are more likely to develop other malignancies in the areas where the radiation was applied.
DOSAGE AND SURVIVAL RATE
Radiation dosages are solely determined by the kind and stage of testicular cancer. The patient must disclose all past medical records, as well as any other relevant medical information, in order for the doctor to determine the appropriate dose for the patient.
For stage I seminomas, 2500 rads is usually given for 15 to 20 days.Stage II seminomas receive the same treatment, with an additional 1000 rads directed at the enlarged lymph nodes. Although radiotherapy has an excellent survival rate in the treatment of testicular cancer, it is not the most desired course of action because it might cause significant side effects such as infertility. The survival rate of radiation therapy for testicular cancer is improved by increasing the dose and providing it in the proper way without damaging other sections of the body.
It is critical that patients continue regular follow-up and a healthy lifestyle following any cancer therapy.
- To avoid peeling and dryness, keep your skin hydrated at all times.
- Consume healthful foods.
- Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Minimum basic activity is required, depending on your energy levels.
- Blood cell count is checked on a regular basis.
- Keep in touch with your health-care provider on a frequent basis.
- In a few cases, blood or hormone infusions may be required.
- In the event of any negative side effects, doctors must be consulted right away.
- To preserve sterility, further caution must be taken to protect other body components, particularly the testicles.