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Which is more painful - chemotherapy or radiation therapy?

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Vaibhav Kumar

community Credihealth Admin
Administration @ Credicommunity 09 January 2018 at 09:01

Understanding the difference between chemotherapy and radiation treatment can help you be more prepared for visits to your doctor.

Various treatment options are available for patients suffering from cancer. Based on the type and stage of cancer, when the patient is diagnosed, patient’s overall health, treatment options are suggested by the Oncologist.

In determining which treatment option is best for you, it is most important that you have an in-depth discussion with your doctor. Below we summarize general information about two common cancer treatments to demonstrate the difference between chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

There are 4 major types of treatment for cancer - radiation, chemotherapy (often called chemo), surgery and biologic therapies.

Comparision between Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy

  • Chemotherapy uses very strong drugs, and radiation therapy uses high energy waves to treat the disease by killing cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy is targeted to particular cancer i.e. specific organs in the body where cancerous tissue is present. Chemotherapy can be used when cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body or whole body.

What is a Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy refers to a type of cancer treatment in which a patient is given drugs that are designed to kill cancer cells either intravenously or orally. Chemotherapy works by targeting cells within the body that divide rapidly, which is one of the main characteristics of cancer cells. Some normal cells also divide rapidly, such as cells in hair follicles and the digestive tract. These cells are also damaged by chemotherapy, which accounts for many of the side effects patients experience when undergoing treatment.

What is a Radiation Treatment or Radiotherapy

Radiation treatment refers to a type of cancer treatment in which high-doses of radiation are delivered to cancerous tumors in the body. The beams of radiation pass through the skin and other materials to target a specific location where a tumor is located. Radiation damages the DNA of the cancer cells, causing them to die. The process of receiving radiation treatment is painless, and side effects are often limited to the areas of the body around the tumors that receive the treatment. Other common side effects include fatigue and skin irritation.

  Chemotherapy Radiation Therapy
Introduction Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer which uses anti-cancer drugs ("chemotherapeutic agents") as part of a standardized regimen. Radiation therapy is the medical use of ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill infected cells.
Objective Cure, control and reduce cancer symptoms. Cure, control and reduce cancer symptoms.
Treatment More than one part of the body or sometimes the whole body. A single part of the body.
Methods Heavy drugs - Injection, Intra-Arterial, Intravenous, Topical, Oral. High energy waves - External, Internal, Injection, Oral.
Duration 2-3 week cycles for 3-6 months. Varies depending on nature and amount of radiation needed
Side effects Fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, changes in fertility levels, lower immunity, hair loss, pain, change in emotional patterns. Fatigue, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, emotional changes, changes in the skin. Hair loss when applied to head; difficulty swallowing when applied to the neck.

In some cases, your Oncologist may also suggest a combination of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. This approach may be particularly targeted towards patients with advanced stage cancer, where cancerous cells have spread to one or more organs beyond the organ where cancer originated.


21 Jan 2019 , 12:12 pm


28 Jun 2018 , 04:47 pm

Could you name a good medical oncologist specializing in prostate cancer in Mumbai ??
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Health Blogger and Fitness Expert 15 December 2017 at 09:13

Which is more difficult relies on the sort and measure of chemo and radiation, I have found out about radiation being utilized to treat prostate disease and that it was excruciating however not to a great degree agonizing. Concerning chemo, the general population I knew were getting it for treatment of bosom malignancy and in the two cases, the chemo was agonizing and weakening. The distress kept going longer for the general population getting chemo while the prostate growth individual said that the inconvenience did not keep going quite a while. You should chat with your oncologist about the distinctive types of disease treatment. 


28 Jun 2018 , 04:48 pm

Could you name a good medical oncologist specializing in prostate cancer in Mumbai ??
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Mohammad Shakil

community Credihealth Admin
Member since 13 December 2016 09 December 2017 at 16:13

There is no one best modality for treatment of cancer. It is a judicious use of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy based on the type of cancers and the stage where each therapy gives best results. For Eg, all leukemias usually require only chemotherapy, lymphomas chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and solid tumors a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. In solid tumors too, some cancers like ovarian cancer requires only surgery and chemotherapy however rectal cancer needs radiation and chemotherapy followed by surgery. Thus based on the cancer type and stage the best modality with the least side effect profile is chosen. 


28 Jun 2018 , 04:48 pm

Could you name a good medical oncologist specializing in prostate cancer in Mumbai ??