Radiotherapy – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Nuclear Energy Glossary Terms

I. What is Radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy, is a common treatment for cancer. It involves using high-energy radiation to target and destroy cancer cells in the body. Radiotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. The goal of radiotherapy is to shrink tumors, relieve symptoms, and improve the overall quality of life for cancer patients.

II. How does Radiotherapy work?

Radiotherapy works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells, which prevents them from growing and dividing. The radiation used in radiotherapy can come from external sources, such as a machine that directs beams of radiation at the tumor, or internal sources, such as radioactive implants placed directly into the body near the tumor. The radiation is carefully targeted to the cancerous cells to minimize damage to healthy surrounding tissue.

III. What are the different types of Radiotherapy?

There are several different types of radiotherapy, including external beam radiotherapy, internal radiotherapy, and systemic radiotherapy. External beam radiotherapy is the most common type and involves directing radiation from outside the body towards the tumor. Internal radiotherapy, also known as brachytherapy, involves placing radioactive sources directly into or near the tumor. Systemic radiotherapy uses radioactive substances that travel through the bloodstream to target cancer cells throughout the body.

IV. What are the side effects of Radiotherapy?

While radiotherapy is an effective treatment for cancer, it can also cause side effects. Common side effects of radiotherapy include fatigue, skin changes, hair loss, nausea, and diarrhea. These side effects are usually temporary and can be managed with medication or other supportive care. In some cases, radiotherapy can also cause long-term side effects such as infertility, damage to surrounding organs, or an increased risk of developing other cancers.

V. How is Radiotherapy used in cancer treatment?

Radiotherapy is used in cancer treatment in several ways. It can be used as a primary treatment to shrink tumors before surgery, as a adjuvant treatment after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells, or as a palliative treatment to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with advanced cancer. Radiotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, depending on the type and stage of cancer.

VI. What are the advancements in Radiotherapy technology?

Advancements in radiotherapy technology have greatly improved the effectiveness and precision of treatment for cancer patients. One of the most significant advancements is the development of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which allows for more precise targeting of tumors while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Other advancements include image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), which uses imaging techniques to track the position of tumors during treatment, and proton therapy, which delivers radiation more precisely to the tumor while sparing nearby organs. These advancements have led to better outcomes and fewer side effects for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.