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Lung Cancer Radiation

Lung cancer is a condition wherein the lungs cells multiply uncontrollably at an alarming rate. Lung cancer treatment is done in a combination with various methods like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and few more. The choice of the treatment depends upon the severity of the cancer and the symptomatic condition of the patient. Radiation treatment is the oldest and a painless treatment of lung cancer that has shown encouraging results.  

The radiation therapy for lung cancer is classified into two types - external beam radiation and internal beam radiation. In the external beam radiation the strong beam of X-rays are focussed over the affected area. In case of internal beam radiation a plastic tube is inserted into the body which forms the passage through which the radioactive materials are sent to the affected area. 

Palliative radiation is a form of treatment wherein the main focus is to reduce the pain for the patients. This is done only in the last stage of the lung cancer wherein the chances of patient’s survival are very lean. Stereotactic radiation treatment is yet another advanced treatment given preferably to elderly people where the high energy beams are directed on the tumour growth.  Another type of radiation therapy for lung cancer patients is the proton radiation where a high beam rays are directed over tumour cluster. One major advantage of radiation therapy over other forms of lung cancer treatment is absence of any invasive process. 

Lung Cancer Radiation Methods: 

The radiation therapy involves passing of strong X-rays over the affected area in order to kill the cancerous cells. With the onset of cancer in a person, the cancer cells start multiplying at an alarming rate. The malignancy level of cancer cells makes it difficult to control their duplication. When the X-rays are bombarded on the cells, the DNA gets completely disabled and fatal cells do not multiply further. The radiation therapy in lung cancer helps in nullifying the cancer cells and prevents their further multiplication. 

The frequency of radiation therapy is daily for regular six weeks. Before the start of radiation therapy, patient is given lasting ink marks over the cancerous patches in the lung, followed by radiation simulation. During this process, patient is asked to lie still so that radiation therapist can direct the radioactive beam precisely. The therapist will also determine the dosage of radiation that would be beamed during the treatment session.  

After Effects: 

As lung cancer radiation involves the passing of strong and powerful x rays several side effects are felt by the patients. Apparently, the patients experience some short-term as well as long-term side effects.  

Short-term side effects 

  • Reddening, darkening of skin along with intense irritation  
  • Hair loss in the chest region 
  • Shortness of breath along with persistent dry cough 
  • High degree of fatigue and sleeplessness 
  • Irritation and pain in Esophagitis along with heartburn and lumpy sensation 

Long-term side effects 

  • Radiation pneumonitis (inflammation of lungs) 
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (formation of scar tissues in lungs) 
  • Cardiac toxicity (damaging of heart muscles) 
  • Occurrence of secondary cancers and leukaemia