Radiation Therapy for lung cancer is effective for destroying cancerous cells. It is also useful in shrinking tumors. It is used for early stage non-small cell lung cancer where cancer is detected in a single small nodule in the lung and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes. Radiation therapy has been effective in treatment of small lung tumors and eradicated them. It is a standard treatment for all those who cannot be treated surgically.
Radiation Techniques for Lung Cancer
The common radiation techniques used for the treatment of lung cancer are discussed here.
External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)
In EBRT, the doses of radiation aim at lungs and surrounding areas. It focuses radiation from outside the body. The treatment is just like getting an X-ray and is painless. It lasts for a few minutes and is generally given 5 days a week for five to seven weeks.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
IMRT uses computer-driven machine to aim at the tumor from several angles. The intensity of beams is adjusted to limit the dose reaching normal tissues. A variation of IMRT is called VMAT, Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy. It uses machine to deliver radiation while rotating around the body. It takes a few minutes.
Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)
3D-CRT utilizes special computer to map the location of tumor. Radiation beams are aimed at tumors from several directions.
High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)
The HDR brachytherapy tightly focuses on tumors to avoid serious side effects. The radiation beams are targeted inside the tumors and offer concentrated results. Also, the method ensures that the radiation exposure to healthy tissues is limited or eliminated.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
SBRT is a highly focused radiation therapy and is delivered from multiple beams. These several beams aim at the tumor from different angles. It is usually used to treat very early stage lung cancer and where the tumors are not close to major airways or spinal cord. This lung cancer treatment method is also painless and seems to have a low risk of complications.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
SRS is a type of SRBT and is given in only one session. It uses a very high dose of radiation delivered accurately to the lung cancer tumors.
Hyperfractionated Radiation Therapy
In this method, a higher dose of radiation therapy each day is given. It is mostly used for the treatment of small cell lung cancer.
This implies the use of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy simultaneously.
Internal Radiation Therapy
Internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy is used to shrink tumors in the airway. In this method, the doctor places a small source of radioactive material directly into the cancer or into the airway. Bronchoscope is generally used in the treatment.
Possible Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
The common side effects of radiation therapy for lung cancer include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Coughing and fever
- Dry or itchy skin
- Hair loss
- Mild skin reactions
Most of the side effects appear shortly after the treatment begins and can be expected to improve within a few weeks after completion of radiation therapy. You should regularly communicate with your physician throughout the course. If you experience any unpleasant side effects, your physician help to understand what you are experience and help you feel better.
The information shared in this post is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice.
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