5 Crucial Pros and Cons of Radiation Oncology That One Should Know About
Radiation oncology pertains to the scientific study and development of radiation therapies to kill cancer cells and prevent their reoccurrence. Radiation therapy is one of the most sought cancer treatment methodologies. However, as with any other medical treatments, there are certain pros and cons of radiation therapy. One of the biggest research projects that are currently being worked upon in the field of radiation oncology are related to addressing some of the disadvantages of radiation therapy.
There was a time when cancer was considered to be a terminal disease. However, nowadays, due to massive leap in the technological advancements in the field of medical research and innovation of newer medical therapies, cancer, if detected in early stages, can be cured completely. Several cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, cryoablation, radiation therapy, etc. have been developed which have made this possible.
Pros and Cons of Radiation Oncology and Radiation Therapy
Radiation oncology is the specialized branch of cancer treatment which depends on radiation therapy to cure cancer and prevent its reoccurrence. Radiation therapy is a medical treatment wherein ionizing radiation is used to kill malignant cancerous tumors. In certain cases, such as after surgery or chemotherapy, radiation therapy is also used to prevent the reoccurrence of cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy is one of the most popular and widely used cancer treatments, which is why the radiation oncology market is well on its path to achieve a stunning growth rate in the coming years. However, like most other medical treatments and therapies, radiation therapy too has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some of these are mentioned below:
- Radiation therapy helps in killing the cancer cells by damaging their DNA, thus restricting their ability to multiply at an abnormal rate. In this way, radiation therapy helps in neutralizing a major proportion of the cancer cells within a tumor.
- Many a times, a tumor is so large that the primary aim of doctors and medical staff is to reduce its size and bring it to early-stage levels. Radiation oncology offers perfect treatments and medical solutions in order to achieve this aim so that once reduced the doctors can then move on to remove the tumor through surgery or other methods.
- While treating cancer, one of the first things an oncologist takes into account is to restrict the spread of the cancer. Radiation therapy effectively restricts the spread of the cancer, thus minimizing the damage malignant cells could have caused to the body.
- Since cancer is a complex ailment, its treatment doesn’t involve one therapeutic method; rather it involves a series of several methods at regular intervals so as to restrict the growth and spread of the cancer cells. One of the biggest advantages of radiation oncology is its synergy with other cancer treatments which helps doctors to continue with their other treatments and medications simultaneously.
- In certain cases, radiation therapy is also known to have activated the immune response system of the patient against future formation of a tumor.
- It has been seen in many cases that radiation therapy causes damage not just to the tumor but also to the adjoining and nearby by healthy cells, thereby damaging healthy tissues. This is a serious concern, as in some types of cancer, the healthy tissues adjoining to the cancer cells could be of vital importance to the body such as lung tissues or heart tissues.
- One of the intrinsic parts of radiation oncology is imaging scans and 3D modelling of the tumor so as to get a better understanding of the location, nature, and extent of the cancer cells. However, these methodologies are not 100% accurate and sometimes the inability of radiation therapy to neutralize a concerned tumor cannot be seen in the imaging scans.
- One major defect of radiation therapy is its inability to kill cancer cells and tumors which don’t have enough oxygen supply. Hence, radiation therapy in some cases proves to be ineffective, especially if done after a surgery.
- Radiation therapy is also known to have an adverse effect on the general wound healing capacity of the body.
- In case of large tumors, radiation therapy alone may not be able to kill all the cancer cells completely, thus leaving a chance of reoccurrence of the cancer.
Future of Radiation Oncology
Radiation oncology is a dynamic field and is continually progressing due research and development of new technologies and scientific methodologies. One area of radiation oncology that concerns the medical world the most is the damage radiation therapy causes to nearby healthy tissues. This disadvantage of radiation therapy severely restricts its use. Hence, a new type of method called as radiogenic therapy is being devised, wherein cytotoxic agents are released in cancer cells which destroy the DNA of the cancer cells, thereby killing them. Initial studies have shown that this therapy is harmless to the nearby healthy cells. Apart from this, a technique known as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is also being developed. Currently, addressing the cons of radiation therapy is one of the biggest research areas in the field of radiation oncology, which hopefully might pave the way for a full-proof cancer treatment in the future.
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