Cancer Treatment Using Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy for cancer treatment can be an effective way to reduce the size of a tumor. Radiation therapy for cancer and radiation therapy for breast cancer require the skills of a highly-trained radiation therapist. If you are completing a radiation therapy degree program at an accredited school or college, you will learn what the different types of radiation therapy for cancer procedures and protocol are, and what types of treatment processes are available for radiation therapy for breast cancer. Radiation therapists learn how to use high-energy radiation machines to shrink tumors without affecting the surrounding tissues. The radiation can only be delivered through a machine that encapsulates the body, and therapists need to know how much energy to administer to each individual patient.

Types of Radiation Therapy for Cancer

There are two types of radiation therapy for cancer: brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) and external radiation therapy (teletherapy). Internal radiation therapy for cancer involves inserting radioactive material directly into or around the tumor. This material can be removed later. The small beads release radiation at the site of a tumor for a few weeks to destroy the tumor and reduce its size.

If external radiation therapy is used, a beam of radiation is directed directly onto the area where there is a tumor within the tissues. A small ink tattoo must be affixed to the skin to cover the area and to ensure that the radiation beam hits the same area every time.

Radiation therapists are trained to perform both of these types of radiation therapy for cancer treatments and use standard machines and computer equipment to ensure accuracy and precision during each treatment.

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Cancer

Although effective, radiation therapy is not without its side effects. Some of the common side effects of radiation therapy for cancer include:

  • Hair loss in the treated area
  • Fatigue
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Painful urination (if radiation therapy is being used to treat the pelvic area)
  • Sore throat
  • Decreased thyroid function

There are also some long-term side effects of radiation therapy for cancer, and the radiation therapist and cancer treatment team will go over these side effects during the consultation and before treatment.

Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Radiation therapy for breast cancer can be a highly-targeted but effective way to destroy breast cancer cells. Radiation therapy schools train students how to perform radiation therapy procedures to kill cancer cells in the breast tissue after surgery. Most types of radiation therapy for breast cancer treatments are performed as an external radiation treatment, so there are no radioactive materials left behind in the breast tissue at any time. The actual treatment process is usually about 5 days a week for up to 7 weeks. In some cases, the treatment may be administered twice per day for a single week.

If you want to specialize in radiation therapy for breast cancer as a radiation therapist, you may be able to take advanced courses and complete a professional training program specifically for breast cancer treatment. Check with your school to see what options may be available for this area of radiation therapy.