Common Questions on Radiation OncologyQuestion 1: What is radiation oncology all about? What should a patient know about this treatment method if they choose to opt for it?Answer: Radiation oncology or radiotherapy is the therapeutic part of X-rays. The radiology department is divided into two parts - one is for diagnostics, which is called radiology, and the other is for treatments, which is known as radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is given to cancer patients, and so this treatment is known as Radiation Oncology. With the help of this treatment, we can treat any type of cancer located anywhere in the body. The patients who come for the treatment of such conditions must know that this is a very specific treatment. This type of treatment is provided in a very focused manner to control it from spreading to nearby areas. Cancer patients should not be afraid of this type of modern treatment method. Generally, 60% of cancer patients will need radiation therapy at some point during their treatment. 85% of cancer patients who receive radiation will be cured. So, this is a very essential part of cancer treatment. Also, read: #MedantaSpecial: Radiation Therapy As a Cancer TreatmentQuestion 2: Can all cancers be treated with the use of radiation oncology? Who is a good candidate to undergo this treatment?Answer: Radiation Therapy can be given to all types of cancer patients. So this depends on the stage at which the patient is diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes, radiation is the only treatment they need especially for head and neck cancer or this may be followed by chemotherapy, or it may be preceded by surgery. There may be different protocols that are now standardized with the modern styles of treatment in the past 30-40 years. All patients who need this treatment are good candidates. Unlike 30 years ago, we can say that all stages of cancer can be treated nowadays with the help of current technology. Especially for the treatment of stage one and stage two, the treatment with radiation is curative up to 80-85%. Similarly, in the third stage, 60 % of patients can get benefit from radiation and in the 4th stage, about 25% of patients can be treated with the help of radiation therapy. Question 3: What are the side effects of the radiation used in this treatment? Generally, you can see the side effects near the affected part of the body. There are many types of side effects, but they are temporary. Some patients may experience difficulty speaking or eating. These are not permanent. Radiation is a specific agent which targets the tumor only. The body has excellent healing capacity. The body cells will start recovering in four to six weeks after radiation. We as a doctor do our best so that, the normal cells of the body do not get affected by radiation. There will be some acute effects also but they will heal after some time. Some specific side effects are difficulty in swallowing, reduced voice, skin issues, hair fall, or blood count may reduce. Question 4: Most cancer cases require 'on the dot' management because of the delay in diagnosis. How do you manage these situations? What is the protocol you follow for the best outcomes? All the patient factors, including the patient's health, stage of the disease, distance from the hospital, time of diagnosis, and aggressiveness of the disease, are prefixed. So, how we can change the outcome so that it doesn't grow during the time one is waiting for the diagnosis? Medanta - The Medicity is a facility that does not delay the investigation. They make sure that the reports are available on the same day. If it is urgent, then the reports are available within one to two hours and we start the treatment accordingly. Question 5: How does the radiation oncology treatment impact the patient's health and lifestyle? What precautions should one maintain before, during, and after the treatment?Answer: The impact of Radiation Oncology may lead to weight loss, blisters in the mouth, urine infection, burning sensation on the skin, and more. The changes during the treatment are categorized week-wise. These changes may bother the patient for around 7 weeks and then the symptoms start resolving. This is because the normal tissues start recovering after 6 weeks. Apart from that, the patient may have difficulty hearing and eating. The teeth of the patient may also start getting damaged. So a team of the best doctors from different specialties is involved in the treatment of all oncological patients. There will be a lot of changes in the lifestyle of the patient. They have to give up their job for that period. Also, the doctors need to counsel the families, on how to take care of the patient, and how they can boost the morale of the patient. We try to make the treatment journey more and more relaxing in terms of medicines and moral support. The family needs to take care of hygiene. Make sure the patient takes a bath daily. The patient can shave but they should avoid using aftershave gels and perfumes because they contain chemicals. They need to follow a well-balanced diet advised by their dietetics. After the treatment, the doctors give them instructions about care at home. At this hospital, we have 24X7 helpline numbers for the patients. We provide a continuous spectrum of care to our patients. Check out all the article in #CrediTalk series here.
About The DoctorDr. Tejinder Kataria is the Chairperson of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Cancer Institute at Medanta -The Medicity, Gurgaon. She has over 30 years of experience in her field. She introduced India's first Infinity Linear Accelerator with VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy), North India's first Integrated Brachytherapy Unit and she has also introduced the latest update in stereotactic radiation treatment to Medanta Hospital. For a priority appointment or more information, contact us at +91 8010994994 or book an appointment with Dr. Tejinder Kataria here
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