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Cervical Cancer Radiation

Cervical cancer affects the cervix which is supposed to be the entrance of the uterus. This cancer commonly affects women over the age of 30. Cervix is the lower part of the uterus and is also referred as the neck of the womb. Some of the common symptoms of this cancer include bleeding other than periods, vaginal discharge, pain in the pelvic region, bleeding during sexual intercourse and so on. Cervical cancer is mainly caused by a virus called Human Papilloma that is transmitted sexually. Women having sex with multiple men could be prone to this virus. Multiple pregnancies, conceiving at an early age; and prolonged use of contraceptive pills have been identified as some of the main cause for this cancer. 

Radiation Therapy Procedure: 

When the cancer is in its initial stages surgery is all that is enough to remove the cancerous tumour from the cervix. However, in most cases, the patient is diagnosed with this deadly disease only in the later stages. Under such conditions surgical treatment is combined with radiation therapy for better results.  

Cervical cancer radiation therapy is done in conjunction with the chemotherapy as well as the surgery. The choice of the treatment depends completely on the extent of the malignancy of cervical cells. Cervical cancer radiation involves the use of strong X-rays that are beamed on the cancer to destroy their DNA. After this treatment, the cancerous cells are completely disabled thus losing their power of multiplication. This stops the alarming proliferation of the cancerous cells in cervical. 

Radiation therapy is advised to patients when the cervical cancer has spread beyond their pelvis, or when the symptoms of malignancy start resurfacing post surgery. Following are the two types of radiation therapies –  

Internal radiation therapy – This type of radiation therapy utilises a device that is full of radioactive material. The device is then placed inside patient’s vagina to remain next to the cervical cancer.  

External radiation therapy – In this therapy, strong radiation beams are focused over affected area to burn out the malignant cells.  

HDR Brachytherapy 

High-Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation therapy. This radiation technique is precise and accurate for sensitive organ like cervix that is closely located near rectum and bladder. HDR brachytherapy beams radiation in the tumour with minimal exposure to adjoining healthy cells and tissue. 

Some of the benefits of HDR Brachytherapy are –  

  • It is a near-accurate cervical cancer treatment that involves procedure of few minutes. 
  • It specifically targets the cervix with complete control over intensity and location of radiation.  
  • It eliminates any chances of exposure of healthy cervical tissue to radiations along with associated side effects. 

Radiation Therapy Side Effects: 

Radiation therapy is a convenient and an effective cervical cancer treatment. However it’s not free from side effects. The patient may experience minor side effects in the form of nausea, diarrhoea, irregular menstrual cycles, irritation in the bladder region, stomach disorders and early menopause. However most of the side effects are controlled with the help of medications, as prescribed by the oncologist.