When radiation therapy is required?
Patients suffering from cancer are often given radiation treatment which uses high energy radiation to reduce the tumor size and kill the cancer cells. This therapy either has a direct effect on the DNA destroying it or creates charged and free radicals in the cells that can damage the cancerous cells in the body. This prevents the cancer cells from getting divided and spreading in the body.
Types of radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses X- rays, gamma rays and other charged particles for treating cancer.
- In External beam radiation therapy a machine is placed at the site of the cancer area which receives beam from it. This is a local treatment method that is used for treating only a specific region. Like in the case of lung or throat cancer.
- In internal radiation therapy, a radioactive substance is placed inside a patient’s body which can either be solid or liquid. When a solid material is placed near the affected cancer area, the treatment is called brachytherapy. In case of the radiation source being liquid, the method is called systemic therapy which helps in circulating the radiation throughout the body killing the cancerous cells via the blood.
Different methods to perform radiation therapy
- Radiation therapy can be given as curative treatment which not only helps in shrinking the tumor size but also in most cases prevents it recurrence also. In this case, radiation therapy is given to a patient after surgery and along with chemotherapy at times.
- Radiation therapy also acts a palliative remedy which is not used for curing but serves to reduce the pain associated with cancer. For instance, in cancer related to brain, spine, esophagus radiation therapy helps in curbing the size of the malignant tumor.
How it is done?
A cancer patient undergoes detailed physical scrutiny called simulation to help the oncologist understand the site and the spread of cancer in an individual. Often head masks, molds and other devices are made according to the patient’s requirement which helps the patient to remain still during the therapy and ensures a proper treatment. The oncologist decides the dose of the radiation therapy and the appropriate regions for the delivery of the therapy. The patient might be placed under a machine to receive the beam or may also have radioactive material placed in the body near the affected cells for an internal therapy referred to as brachytherapy. Radiation therapy referred to as systemic radiation can also be orally taken or injected into the body which helps it to travel in the bloodstream.
Precautions / Points to remember
Both acute and chronic side effects are likely to arise when a patient is undergoing radiation therapy. These include:
- Radiation causes damage to normal cells also. The reproductive organs are more likely to get affected than any other body parts.
- Skin irritation, urinary problems if the lower abdomen is being treated and damage to the salivary glands in case of head or neck treatment is a common occurrence.
- The patient can also experience fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and bleeding in some cases.
- Long term side effects include fibrosis (normal tissues gets replaced by scar tissues thus limiting movements of the affected region), loss of memory and infertility.
- Rare chances of a recurrence of cancer exist.
Success rate of radiation therapy
Majority of the cancer patients, are given radiation therapy as a part of the treatment. Sometimes, oncologists recommend it as a primary method of treatment. 98% survival rate is ensured for most common types of cancer with radiation therapy. Like for men suffering from prostate cancer, the success rate of radiation therapy is 95% when treated externally.
Radiation therapy cost in India?
The therapy cost can be expensive depending upon the condition of the patient. The price in India ranges between Rs. 1, 50,000 to Rs. 2, 75,000 depending upon the treatment package. The cost however is lower compared to hospitals in the western countries and the treatment becomes more reasonable in government hospitals where the average cost amounts to Rs. 50,000.
Top Indian hospitals for radiation treatment
The leading hospitals in India which provide an effective yet affordable radiation therapy are:
- Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai
- Apollo Hospital, Chennai
- Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore
- Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi
- Fortis Hospital, Noida
- Narayana Cancer Hospital, Bangalore
- Artemis Hospital, Giurgaon
- Glenegals Global Hospital, Chennai
- Columbai Asia Hospitals, Bangalore
- Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai.
Best radiation therapy surgeons in India
Some of the experienced radiation oncologists among others in India are:
- Vijay Anand Reddy( Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills)
- Nalini Yadala ( Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills)
- Nagraj G Huilgol( Nanavati Hospital, Vile Parle)
- D Shankar Mahadev ( American Oncology Institute, Hyderabad)
- Tejinder Kataria ( Medanta- The Medicity, Gurgaon)
- Tanmoy Mukhopadhyay ( Apollo Gleneagles, Kolkata)
- B K Mohanti ( Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon)
- K C Mishra ( Nanavati Hospital, Vile Parle)
- Pranav Chadha ( Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai)
- Subodh C Pande ( Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon)
- A patient from Delhi, India says:
“I had difficulty while urinating and on visiting a physician I got to know that I had prostate cancer. My friend suggested me to get in touch with Medicure Assist who recommended me to Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. On visiting the doctor at the hospital, he discussed with me the treatment procedure and also informed me about the long term side effects. After consulting him, I was sure of getting treated under him. For a period of 2 months I took radiation therapy. While undergoing the treatment, I had a burning sensation while urinating and sometimes had blood in the stool. However, no serious complications arose. Follow up physical examinations and scans showed improvement in my health. Soon I was declared cancer free. I am extremely satisfied with the support and care I got from the medical team here. I am extremely thankful to Medicure Assist for helping me out in my recovery and also grateful to my radiation oncologist for his cooperation throughout the treatment process.”
- Another cancer patient from Germany, suffering from brain cancer narrates:
“I was detected with metastatic brain tumors and radiation was given to the entire head region. Surgery in my case was a complicated one due to the location of the tumor. My treatment was a painful one and I often suffered from brain swelling. Steroids were prescribed which reduced the pain. The hospital also provided me nutrition therapy, which helped in my recovery. I gradually healed and my decision on getting my treatment done in India was a successful one. Not only was the cost reasonable but the treatment too was effective. I have been advised to get in touch with my oncologist after intervals. A special health routine was also designed for aiding my recovery and I was strictly told to quit smoking. I am thankful for the help I got from the hospital staff. Also, I would like to recommend Medicure Assist to all patients in need as they had been a genuine help to me throughout my radiation therapy and my stay in India.”