Radiotherapy Treatment: The Cost, Types And Side Effects
By: Aakanksha Parulekar
Published On: October 19, 2018
We talk about the scenario of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in India. Read on!
Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth. There are over 100 different types of cancer, and each of them is classified by the cell that initially gets affected. Cancer harms the body forming lumps or masses of tissue called tumors.
Presently in India, cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Many cancers are preventable by controlling the risk factors such as tobacco use, excessive consumption of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
In addition, a significant proportion of cancers can be cured by surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, especially if the cancer is detected early.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment
Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease. But to most people, the word ‘chemotherapy’ is associated with cancer. Surgery and radiation are used to remove, kill, or damage the cancer cells in a particular area, but chemotherapy can work throughout the whole body.
This means chemotherapy can kill the cells that have spread to various parts of the body, far away from the original tumor.
Goals of chemotherapy treatment
Chemotherapy is used to destroy cancer and make sure it never comes back but, there is no 100% guarantee. It often takes many years to know if a person’s cancer is really cured.
In many cases, the cancer doesn’t completely go away, but is controlled and managed as a chronic disease, much like heart disease or diabetes. In other cases, the cancer may even seem to have gone away for a while, but it’s expected to come back, chemotherapy can be given again in such cases.
When the cancer is at an advanced stage, meaning it’s not under control and has spread from where it started to other parts of the body, the goal may be to improve the quality of life or help the person feel better.
For instance, chemotherapy may be used to help shrink a tumor that’s causing pain or pressure.
What is radiotherapy treatment?
Radiotherapy works by destroying cancer cells in the affected areas. Normal cells can also be damaged by radiotherapy, which may cause side effects. Cancer cells cannot repair themselves after radiotherapy but normal cells usually can.
The type of radiotherapy you’re given will depend on the type of cancer you are battling.
Goals of radiotherapy treatment
Radiotherapy is normally given to try and destroy tumors and cure the cancer. It may also be used with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy.
Doctors may give radiotherapy to help relieve the symptoms or side effects that you have, if it’s not possible to cure the cancer.
Radiotherapy treatment types
There are two main types of radiotherapy, external and internal beam. There are many factors that determine the type of radiotherapy you need:
The type of cancer
The size of the tumor
Location of the tumor in the body
The distance of the tumor from other sensitive tissues
Medical health and general health of the patient
Whether or not there is any other cancer treatment
Age and medical conditions
External Beam Radiotherapy
This makes use of a machine that aims radiation at the cancer. The machine moves around your body, sending radiation to a part of your body from many directions.
External beam radiation therapy is a local treatment, which means it treats a specific part of your body. For example, if you have cancer in your lung, you will have radiation only to your chest, not to your whole body.
Internal Beam Radiotherapy
This is a treatment where a source of radiation is put inside your body, this source can either be solid or liquid. Radiotherapy with a liquid source is called systemic therapy where the liquid travels all over your body through blood.
Internal radiation therapy with a solid source is called brachytherapy. In this type of treatment, seeds, ribbons, or capsules that contain a radiation source are placed in your body in or near the tumor. Like external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy is a local treatment and treats only a specific part of your body.
Side effects of Radiotherapy
Although Radiotherapy helps kill the cancerous cells, the impact of the treatment is so high that it results in a lot of side effects, such as:
Low blood count
Excessive body pain
Swelling of body parts
The cost of radiotherapy treatment
The duration of radiotherapy treatment is 5 days a week for 3 to 9 weeks depending on the severity of the cancer. Patients are given a break from treatment on weekend days to give normal cells some time to heal, thus reducing side effects.
A person receiving external radiation therapy is not radioactive or dangerous to the people around him or her.
The average cost of radiotherapy treatment would be anywhere between Rs. 10- 20 lakhs, with each treatment consisting of six cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy is generally given from a machine outside the body. Each session is quick and painless and lasts about 15 minutes.
Types of cancers that are treated with radiotherapy
Head and neck cancer
- Throat cancer
How crowdfunding can help
India has innumerable cancer cases each year with expensive surgeries, treatments, chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions. The treatment cost of radiation therapy may cost anywhere between Rs. 5-20 lakhs depending on the type and stage of cancer with added medications and post-op care.
The number of India’s being pushed below the poverty line is increasing each year as they cannot afford insurance covers and are not eligible for loans. Hence, one can raise funds quickly and effectively through online crowdfunding as compared to loans and insurances.
Read here to know more about how crowdfunding can help.
You can raise funds successfully for all your medical treatments here.
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