Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma Patients
Out of the many treatments possible for mesothelioma patients, radiation therapy is the oldest treatment with the least side effects. This can be a more appealing alternative because it allows you to lead a relatively normal lifestyle. This therapy is often used when surgery is not an option. According to the American Cancer Society, 50% to 60% of cancer patients are prescribed radiation therapy. Radiation therapy utilizes high energy rays to destroy cancer cells and limit their growth. While chemotherapy affects all cells, radiation allows for the localization of treatment. Radiation only affects the cancerous cells and not healthy cells. There are two treatments available with radiation. The first being external radiation, which is administered through a machine that is similar to an x-ray machine. This therapy last 5 days a week for several weeks. Another form of this therapy is internal radiation, or brachytherapy. Radio-active material is implanted at the site of the mesothelioma so that the radiation is completely focused on the tumor. This process requires a hospital stay due to the high radiation that is present after implantation. These implants can be temporary or permanent. Radiation therapy can stop the spread of cancer, and can also help alleviate symptoms of mesothelioma such as shortness of breath, pain, bleeding, and difficulty swallowing. This treatment has much milder side effects than other treatments for mesothelioma. Side effects may include extreme fatigue, and sometime skin reactions that may resemble sunburn. Chest radiation may cause lung damage, and abdominal radiation may cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Regardless of side effects, radiation therapy overall helps damage the cancerous cells of mesothelioma and help alleviate symptoms of the cancer. The goal of radiation therapy is to kill the cancer, and create a more livable and comfortable lifestyle. The side effects of radiation therapy, as with any other therapy, outweigh the pain and suffering that mesothelioma can cause.