The cancer industry of today is still using high doses of radiation. Even with the refinement and diminished exposure radiation still has lethal side effects. Radiation oncology is one of the specialties in the field of cancer treatment. It is used with the intent of killing cancer cells. Also, it is used as a way to cure cancer according to medical standards.
If a cure isn’t the likely outcome then it is used to control the disease. Radiation used to treat cancer is called ionizing radiation. This is because it forms ions as it goes through a tissue. Ions are atoms that have an electric charge. Ions can cause the cell to be killed or cause genetic changes both directly and indirectly. The effect is a change in the DNA which means a molecular change has occurred.
Radiation has a direct influence on the cell nucleus. By radiating the cancerous area cancer cells are damaged and destroyed. At the same time radiation has an effect on the healthy cells. What it does is mutate the genes in the nucleus of these healthy cells, and makes it easier for them to develop into cancer. Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat cancerous tumors. Radiation Dangers Since radiation therapy is considered an important part of treating certain cancers, the side effects should be addressed.
Some of the effects of radiation are well known, and others aren’t known. The real problem is the treatment to eradicate the cancer brings about a host of other problems. Radiation fields even when pinpointing the tumor may include lymph nodes, which are considered a risk to the spreading of the disease. Also, it is considered necessary to include a margin of normal tissue to allow for the possibility of spreading or just to allow for the tumors internal motion.
Ionizing radiation increases the likelihood of a secondary cancer. The thyroid gland and bone marrow are sensitive to radiation. This is why leukemia’s can appear a few years after radiation treatments. This is a cancer which arises in the bone marrow. There are other cancers, which can result from radiation exposure and may take from 10 to 15 years to manifest. These are quite significant cancers and are hard to treat. The list includes: lung cancer, skin cancer, thyroid cancer, multiple myeloma, breast cancer, and stomach cancer.
Almost any cancer can be linked back to radiation exposure. Radiation Damage Radiation damage is less understood by the public. The breakdown of the side effects and the risk to the patient is something that needs to be explained. The short and long term damage is a relevant topic, as this is what will affect everyday life for the patient. The patient treated with radiation therapy can develop radiation pneumonits, which is a lung inflammation, which causes cough, shortness of breath and fevers anywhere from three to nine months after completing treatment. This is a short term issue that may resolve in a relatively short time or take an extensive period to resolve. Radiation therapy used on lymph nodes can increase the risk of lymph edema or arm swelling. This has been seen in breast cancer patients. Radiation to the lymph nodes in the armpit area can cause numbness, tingling and pain with a loss of strength in the hand and arm. Radiation can cause a breakdown of the skin in the area.
Radiation therapy has a long history of use to treat breast cancer. The real problem occurs because the damage to the genes nucleus causes the expression of pro-inflammatory factors. When the cancer cells are damaged by radiation and destroyed the inflammation spreads to healthy cells in the area. This may be one of the reasons that high doses of radiation delivered to the chest increase the risk of heart disease.
Protecting Yourself There are times that patients will utilize radiation therapy. The procedure is recommended and those that choose to use this protocol should at least understand what they can do to protect themselves. Also, it is critical to determine how effective radiation is for each type of cancer. Many times it is used without considering the fact that it isn’t very effective for certain cancers.
Before doing anything it is important to find out what preserves optimal health. The same things that support good health support you when you opt for treatment. Cancer is a systemic, not a localized condition. About 80% of your genetic predisposition is either activated or held in check by what you do. So if you use radiation as a treatment it is important to realize that cancer cells are still in your body and taking care is still the most protective mechanism for long term survival