When employed as a treatment for mesothelioma, radiation therapy may be used before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain. Radiation therapy may also be used with chemotherapy in place of surgery. For people with mesothelioma, radiation therapy may result in side effects, including difficulty swallowing, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Mesothelioma Radiation: An IntroductionRadiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. When used to treat mesothelioma, radiation therapy is directed to a limited area and affects the cancer cells only in that area.
Radiation therapy may be used before surgery to shrink a tumor, or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain in the treated area. Doctors also use mesothelioma radiation therapy, often combined with chemotherapy, as primary mesothelioma treatment instead of surgery. Radiation therapy may also be used to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath.
For mesothelioma radiation therapy, patients go to the hospital or clinic, often 5 days a week for several weeks.
Mesothelioma Radiation TypesThere are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.
The way the radiation therapy is given for mesothelioma treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Side Effects of Mesothelioma Radiation TherapyMesothelioma radiation therapy, like chemotherapy, affects normal as well as cancerous cells. Side effects of radiation therapy depend mainly on the part of the body that is treated and the treatment dose.
Common side effects associated with mesothelioma radiation therapy include the following:
- A dry, sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Skin changes at the site of treatment
- Loss of appetite.
Patients receiving radiation to the brain may have headaches, skin changes, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, or problems with memory and thought processes.