All You Need To Know About Radiotherapy In Head And Neck Cancer | MrMed
Head and neck cancer is a commonly occurring cancer. According to a report from 2021 by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Head and neck cancers ranked second in India with an estimated 21.3% of registered hospital cases. Cancers of the mouth, nasal cavity, tonsil, oropharynx, and larynx are some examples of head and neck cancers. Various treatment approaches are available to treat head and neck cancers, including radiation therapy or radiotherapy.
Keep reading to learn more about head and neck cancer radiotherapy.
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy the cancer cells while causing as little injury to normal cells as feasible. When the beams reach the tumor, they damage the cancer cell's DNA, killing them. It is an effective treatment for head and neck malignancies.
Head and neck cancer radiation therapy is used to treat cancer as it slows down the spread of the disease to nearby organs by preventing the development of tumors. Radiation therapy is effective in reducing the size of tumors.
Head And Neck Cancer Radiation Therapy
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – IMRT is a special kind of external beam radiation therapy. Advanced technology is used in IMRT to precisely aim radiation beams at the tumor, reducing the damage to nearby healthy cells, potentially resulting in fewer side effects.
- Tomotherapy – It uses detailed, three-dimensional maps of the size and location of a tumor. The equipment then emits small beamlets of radiation at tumors from varied angles, enabling exceptional accuracy for targeting malignancies.
- Proton Therapy – Targeted radiation therapy, known as proton therapy, uses proton beams rather than photon beams to treat patients. Protons do not cross the tumor as photons do. Because of this, proton therapy lowers the possibility of adverse effects by harm to healthy tissue, and the therapy reduces the risk of adverse effects after treatment.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery - It is a type of non-surgical radiation therapy that can be used instead of an invasive surgery. The technology emits several radiation beams at various angles and in multiple planes. The precise location of the tumor is determined by using three-dimensional imaging.
- Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) – Imaging tests like CT, MRI, or PET scans are used in image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT). These are combined with specialized computer software to optimize the real-time delivery of radiation to the treatment area.
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) - It combines IGRT (Image-guided radiotherapy) with more advanced treatments. This treatment delivers significant doses of radiation to a tumor and minimizes the amount of radiation reaching neighboring healthy cells. Typically, it requires fewer treatments than other types of radiation therapy, and SBRT has the potential to produce better outcomes with fewer side effects than conventional radiation therapy.
- 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy – In this method, a three-dimensional model of the precise size and shape of the tumor is produced using imaging images.
- Brachytherapy - Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy. In this treatment radioactive sources are placed inside the body or near the tumors which kill cancer cells and shrink the tumors.
- Chemoradiation - Chemotherapy is a type of Head and neck cancer treatment that targets cancer cells with potent medications. To increase treatment efficacy, chemotherapeutic medications are frequently used before or during radiation.
Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
The most common side effects of Head and neck cancer radiation therapy include:
- Sore mouth or throat
- Loss of taste
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Hair loss
- Weakening of the teeth
- Pain, sores, or redness in the mouth
- Changes in your skin that look like a sunburn
Stay Strong And Be Positive
A cancer diagnosis can affect mental health and the various side effects of the treatment can worsen the patient’s mental health further. Radiation therapy is effective, but its side effects can be scary. However, a healthy diet, simple home remedies, regular physical activity, counseling, meditation, etc., can help relieve side effects of radiotherapy . Staying positive and strong throughout the treatment is very important for a speedy recovery.
“Stay Positive In A Negative Situation, You Win’’