Hello and welcome to our extensive guide on mesothelioma radiation treatment. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest, and abdomen. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and can be difficult to treat. Radiation therapy is one of the main treatments for mesothelioma, and this guide will provide you with all of the information you need to know about it.
What is Radiation Therapy and How Does it Work?
Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is a type of cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. The radiation can be delivered through external beams or through internal implantation of radioactive sources. The radiation damages the DNA of cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and growing. Radiation therapy can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.
The type of radiation therapy used for mesothelioma depends on the location and stage of the cancer. There are two main types of radiation therapy:
- External beam radiation therapy: This type of radiation is delivered from a machine outside of the body. The radiation is directed at the cancerous area from various angles to minimize the damage to healthy tissues.
- Brachytherapy: This type of radiation is delivered internally by placing radioactive sources directly into the tumor or surrounding tissues.
Both external beam and brachytherapy can be used to treat mesothelioma, depending on the stage and location of the cancer. Your doctor will determine which type of radiation therapy is best for your specific case.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
External beam radiation therapy is one of the most common types of radiation therapy, especially for mesothelioma. It can be given before or after surgery, or as a standalone treatment. During external beam radiation therapy, a radiation oncologist will use a machine called a linear accelerator to deliver high-energy radiation to the tumor and surrounding areas. The treatment is typically given in an outpatient setting over the course of several weeks.
There are several types of external beam radiation therapy used for mesothelioma:
- 3D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT): This type of radiation therapy uses CT scans to create a 3D image of the tumor and surrounding structures. The radiation beams are then shaped to match the shape of the tumor, minimizing the radiation exposure to healthy tissues.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): This type of radiation therapy uses computer algorithms to modulate the intensity of the radiation beams, allowing for precise targeting of the tumor and sparing healthy tissues.
- Proton therapy: This type of radiation therapy uses protons, which are positively charged particles, to deliver the radiation. Proton therapy can be more precise than traditional radiation therapy, but it may not be available at all treatment centers.
Your radiation oncologist will determine which type of external beam radiation therapy is best for your specific case.
Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation therapy, involves placing radioactive sources inside the body to deliver the radiation directly to the tumor. This type of radiation therapy can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with external beam radiation therapy. Brachytherapy is typically done in an outpatient setting, but in some cases, patients may need to stay in the hospital for a short period of time.
There are two types of brachytherapy used for mesothelioma:
- Interstitial brachytherapy: This type of brachytherapy involves placing radioactive sources directly into the tumor or surrounding tissues. The sources are typically placed using needles or catheters that are inserted into the tumor or surrounding tissues.
- Intracavitary brachytherapy: This type of brachytherapy involves placing radioactive sources inside a body cavity, such as the chest or abdomen, to deliver radiation to the tumor and surrounding tissues.
Side Effects of Mesothelioma Radiation
Like all cancer treatments, radiation therapy can cause side effects. The side effects of radiation therapy for mesothelioma depend on the type and dose of radiation therapy, as well as the patient’s overall health. Some common side effects of radiation therapy for mesothelioma include:
- Fatigue: Radiation therapy can cause fatigue and make it difficult to complete daily activities.
- Skin changes: The skin in the treatment area may become red, dry, or itchy. In some cases, the skin may peel or blister.
- Nausea and vomiting: Radiation therapy to the chest or abdomen can cause nausea and vomiting. Your doctor can prescribe medications to manage these symptoms.
- Chest pain or discomfort: Radiation therapy to the chest can cause chest pain or discomfort. Your doctor can prescribe pain medications to manage these symptoms.
- Breathing difficulties: Radiation therapy to the chest can cause swelling or inflammation in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Your doctor can prescribe medications to manage these symptoms.
If you experience any side effects during radiation therapy, be sure to tell your doctor. Your doctor can prescribe medications or other treatments to manage these symptoms.
FAQs about Mesothelioma Radiation
1. How long does radiation therapy for mesothelioma last?
The length of radiation therapy for mesothelioma depends on the type and dose of radiation therapy, as well as the patient’s overall health. External beam radiation therapy typically lasts between 5 and 7 weeks, while brachytherapy can be completed in a single day or over the course of a few days.
2. Does radiation therapy cure mesothelioma?
There is no cure for mesothelioma, but radiation therapy can help to shrink the tumor and relieve symptoms. Radiation therapy is often used as a palliative treatment to improve quality of life for patients with mesothelioma.
3. Will radiation therapy make me radioactive?
No, radiation therapy will not make you radioactive. The radiation used in radiation therapy is carefully controlled and does not leave your body.
4. Can I work during radiation therapy?
Many patients are able to work during radiation therapy, depending on their job and the side effects they experience. If you are experiencing significant side effects, you may need to take time off work. Talk to your doctor about your specific situation and whether it is safe for you to work during radiation therapy.
5. Are there any foods I should avoid during radiation therapy?
There are no specific foods you need to avoid during radiation therapy. However, it is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to help your body heal and recover. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, your doctor may recommend avoiding spicy, greasy, or high-fat foods.
Mesothelioma radiation therapy can be an effective treatment for mesothelioma, helping to shrink the tumor and relieve symptoms. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor. Be sure to ask questions and educate yourself about mesothelioma radiation therapy to make informed decisions about your care.