The following lines will focus on the radiation therapy as a treatment option for the cervical cancer. Tumors can be shrunk or the cancerous cells eliminated with the use of radiation therapy, which emits certain energy types. The DNA of the cells is destroyed and thus it cannot grow in numbers, but this process can destroy the healthy surrounding cells. However, they can recover in full since they are very resilient. The radiation therapy can be used for treating cervical cancer and it can be used along with the surgery, chemotherapy or it can be used alone. Many factors, like the stage of the cancer, will determine which combination, if any, will be used for treatment. So, radiation therapy may be used alone as a sole treatment, following a surgery or along or after a chemotherapy treatment. Cisplatin and 5-FU are some of the chemotherapy drugs and they can increase the cancer cell's sensitivity to radiation.
Radiation Therapy Types
We will see which types of radiation therapy can be used for treating cervical cancer. There are two types and they are internal and external, and depending on the case, they can be used in combination or separately. We will talk about the internal radiation first. The name used for it is brachytherapy, and it involves the use of implants with a radioactive substance put into the uterus. It is placed through the vagina and this is how the treatment is conducted. Once the treatment is done, the patient can go home. The second type is external radiation and it is given on an outpatient basis, unlike the internal, which is done on impatient, for a period from four to six week. During this period, patient will receive treatment every day and the treatment involves exposure to gamma or X-rays energy on certain areas of the body. Pelvic external radiation is done on the women with the cervical cancer. This treatment, also called systemic therapy, causes no pain and it lasts for only several minutes.
There are several possible side effects that can be felt after the radiation therapy, and they mostly depend on the body of the patient. But we can single out three most common side effects and they are appetite loss, skin problems and fatigue. Appetite loss can cause deficiencies of essential nutrients and fatigue. So this side effect can be a great problem since strength is needed for the treatment, and the best source of it is food. Next possible side effect is fatigue and when this side effect kicks in, support must take care of the errands and chores around the house. Energy levels will increase if you sleep well and get short naps along the day. Irritated, tan and red skin may appear after the radiation therapy due to skin's sensitivity. Sun exposure, tight clothes and use of scented lotions and perfumes are advised in this situation.