Is Chemotherapy and Radiation Oncology Different?
Radiation oncology destroys cancer cells with high-energy beams, for instance, X-rays or protons. And, chemotherapy makes use of special medications to shrink or destroy cancer cells. Although chemotherapy and radiation oncology both help in destroying cells of cancer, their way of functioning is different.
Radiation oncology and chemotherapy both are the treatments used for curing cancer. Radiation oncology destroys cancer cells with high-energy beams, for instance, X-rays or protons. And, chemotherapy makes use of special medications to shrink or destroy cancer cells.
The Purpose of Radiation Oncology and Chemotherapy
Both these treatments help in curing cancer patients. They offer three things as follows:
- Therapy: Help in getting rid of all the cells of cancer and evade the cancer cells from reoccurring.
- Control: Facilitate shrinkage or slowing of cancer tumours or avoid the spreading of cancer cells to other body parts.
- Relief: Help in shrinking of tumours to reduce pain and other tough cancer symptoms, which is why it is often referred as palliative radiation therapy.
When a single treatment is not conceivable, collectively both these treatments can be effective methods to slowdown the development of the cancer cells and get rid of pain and other painful symptoms.
How do Chemotherapy and Radiation Oncology Work?
Although chemotherapy and radiation oncology both help in destroying the cells of cancer, their way of functioning is different. Drugs used in chemotherapy circulate in the bloodstream of the patient. They shrink or destroy cancer cells present in the body, not only at the spot where the first (primary) cancerous tumour has emerged. As these medications pass through the entire body of the patient, they are termed “systemic”.
On the other hand, radiation oncology method makes use of imperceptible bursts of energy rather than drugs. Also, it is generally a “local” therapy that aims energy beams only at the zone where cancer cells develop.
Which Cancer Therapy to Choose?
Doctor choose the therapy depending on various factors such as the type of cancer, its stage, or since when cancer cells have been growing in the body. In majority of the cases, a doctor will need to perform the treatment with some different types of methods. These may consist of both chemotherapy as well as radiation oncology, along with a surgery to get rid of tumours, targeted therapies, and other methods.
The patient and doctors might discover unique plans that might work in a particular case. Patients should not be anxious to ask queries about the pros and cons of different treatments.
How are Radiation Oncology and Chemotherapy Performed?
Both these treatments usually need nearly a duration of weeks in consistent visits to the hospital, healthcare centre or doctor’s clinic. However, every patient is different, so it is vital for every patient to talk to his/her doctor about the exact treatment that best suits their particular case.
These treatments are delivered by the medical team using one or more of these approaches:
- External radiation: In this treatment, a device outside the patient’s body emits imperceptible high-energy beams into the tumour.
- Internal radiation: This treatment is also named “brachytherapy.” In this treatment, a radioactive object is placed inside the patient’s body close to the tumour. Sometimes, this object is left inside the body to do its work or sometimes it is taken out soon afterward, depending upon the type of tumour.
- Systemic radiation: Although unfamiliar, a doctor may advise making use of radiation as a systemic treatment that is effective all over the body. In this, the medications or treatment is delivered through a pill or needle or port into one of the veins of the patient.
What are the Side Effects of these Treatments?
Apart from destroying the cells of cancer, both chemotherapy and radiation oncology can harm healthy cells in the body. This sometimes results in unfavourable side effects. The precise ones are based on the type as well as extent of the therapy performed. Also, the side effects depend on person-to-person; some individuals might have more serious side effects as compared to others.
Some of the potential side effects that both chemotherapy and radiation oncology can cause are as follows:
- Loss of hair
- Nausea & vomiting
- Changes in skin (peeling, dryness, irritation)
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
The Future of Cancer Tretaments
As per a report by Research Dive, the global radiation oncology market is estimated to hit $10,679.7 million by 2027. This is mainly because the number of cancer patients are increasing rapidly and the technology and treatment methods used in cancer treatments are continuously evolving. Latest developments have helped numerous patients suffering from cancer, accounting in higher cure rates, less side effects, quicker treatment periods and decreased need for numerous treatments. In a nutshell, the future for cancer treatments appears to be positive, with the rising rate of success of these treatments.
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