Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma: What You Need to Know
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lung, chest cavity, abdomen, and heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a material that was commonly used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries because of its fire-resistant properties. Although mesothelioma is a rare cancer, it has a very high mortality rate.
One of the treatment options for mesothelioma is radiation therapy. Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy. Here's what you need to know about radiation therapy for mesothelioma.
Types of Radiation Therapy
There are two main types of radiation therapy for mesothelioma: external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy.
External beam radiation therapy involves the use of a machine that directs radiation to the cancer from outside the body. This type of radiation therapy is usually given in multiple sessions over a period of several weeks.
Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation therapy, involves the use of radioactive materials placed into or near the tumor. This type of radiation therapy is usually given as a single treatment or in a few sessions over a period of several days.
Effectiveness of Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy can be effective in reducing the size of mesothelioma tumors and relieving symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath. It is most effective when used in combination with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy.
However, radiation therapy also has some limitations. It can damage healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, leading to side effects such as fatigue, skin changes, and difficulty swallowing. In some cases, the side effects of radiation therapy can be severe enough to limit the patient's quality of life.
Preparing for Radiation Therapy
Before radiation therapy, you will have an initial consultation with a radiation oncologist who will determine the best course of treatment for your individual case. You may also undergo imaging tests such as CT scans and MRI scans to help the doctor plan the radiation treatment.
During radiation therapy, you will need to lie still for several minutes while the radiation machine delivers the treatment. You may need to undergo multiple sessions of radiation therapy over several weeks.
Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
Common side effects of radiation therapy include fatigue, skin changes, and difficulty swallowing. Depending on the location of the tumor, you may also experience nausea, diarrhea, or bladder irritation.
In some cases, radiation therapy can cause long-term side effects such as lung damage or heart damage. Your doctor will monitor your condition closely during and after treatment to ensure that any side effects are managed appropriately.
Radiation therapy is one of the treatment options available for mesothelioma. It can be effective in reducing the size of tumors and relieving symptoms, but it also has some limitations and side effects. Before undergoing radiation therapy, it is important to discuss your options with your doctor and to be aware of the potential risks and benefits of the treatment.