Radiation oncology or radiotherapy is one of the important cancer treatment modalities. This treatment modality uses the controlled use of powerful radiation beams to kill the cancer cells or ease the cancer-related symptoms.
It is a safe, effective and minimally invasive treatment method that has many advantages for the patients:
- Shorter treatment duration
- Reduced damage to the surrounding tissues due to image guidance and highly precise radiation delivery
- Radiation therapy can be received as an outpatient
- Since there is no incision, patients need not worry about blood loss, longer recovery periods or infection risks.
- As treatment-related complications are fewer, radiation therapy helps patients experience a better quality of life.
A wide range of cancers can be treated with radiation therapy. In most cases, radiation therapy is coupled with surgery or chemotherapy for a better-quality clinical outcome.
Recent advancements in the field of radiation oncology have made it possible for oncologists to treat various cancer types successfully without serious complications. Today, with advanced technology, we can manage cancers successfully with a fewer number of radiotherapy sessions, lower the dose of radiation, ensure that the healthy tissues are preserved, etc. HCG has always been the first to adopt various technologies that were not only advanced but also new in India.
Radiation Therapy at HCG
At HCG we house state-of-the-art technologies that help our specialists in achieving the best clinical outcomes.
CyberKnife is the world’s first whole-body robotic radiosurgery system that can be used to treat multiple cancerous and non-cancerous conditions, namely prostate cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, spine cancer, trigeminal neuralgia, etc. The radiation is delivered from multiple angles precisely to kill the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues. Through its real-time imaging feature, CyberKnife can track small changes in the tumour location, which is caused due to breathing or other bodily movements and adjust the radiation delivery accordingly.
2. Tomotherapy H
Tomotherapy H is an advanced image-guided radiation delivery system. It combines the benefits of computed tomography (CT scan) and linear accelerator. The real-time imaging guidance helps specialists plan the treatment accurately and deliver the high-dose radiation precisely to the target area. Tomotherapy H is capable of delivering up to 1000 beams of radiation travelling in straight lines or tangents from different directions and successfully destroying cancer cells. It is a non-invasive procedure, therefore there is no blood loss, long hospital stays or prolonged recovery. Patients can continue with their day-to-day activities as they undergo their treatment.
The TrueBeam is another unique radiation therapy system, which precisely delivers the radiation to destroy the tumour cells throughout the body while minimising the damage to the surrounding healthy tissues. TrueBeam’s advanced imaging facility and treatment models allow the specialists to customise radiation delivery for each cancer case. It synchronises radiation delivery with the imaging and thereby adjusts radiation delivery according to the smallest movement of the patient including breathing. TrueBeam can deliver high dose radiation in a shorter duration and this allows the specialists to shorten the overall treatment duration for the patients.
4. Versa HD
Versa HD is an all-in-one radiation delivery system, which delivers radiation with advanced stereotactic precision. Versa HD comes with sophisticated conformal beam-shaping technology and high dose rate mode delivery, which improves the precision and facilitates the speed necessary to deliver stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) techniques, which require superior accuracy in tumour targeting and protecting the internal organs.
5. Agility Synergy
The Agility Synergy is a linear accelerator, which allows specialists to deliver extremely accurate, image-guided adaptive radiotherapy safely, in very few sessions. Agility Synergy can treat cancer present in any part of the body with greater precision along with non-cancerous medical conditions like trigeminal neuralgia, meningioma, acoustic neuroma, etc.
6. Artiste with CT on rails
The Artiste is Asia’s first Image-Guided Radiation Therapy machine with CT-on-rails, Artiste has a significant role in making cancer treatment more precise while protecting the surrounding healthy tissues and having minimal side-effects. It carefully delivers the radiation beam wherein the target area receives the maximum dose while the healthy tissues receive less intense radiation. This positively impacts the treatment response and recovery among cancer patients.
Brachytherapy or internal beam radiation therapy allows specialists to treat cancers by placing a radiation source inside or very close to the tumour. Radiation emitted by this source kills the cancer cells over time. This helps in delivering high-dose radiation to the target while sparing the healthy tissues surrounding the tumour. Brachytherapy is used to treat a wide range of cancers namely prostate cancer, bladder cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, rectum cancer, head & neck cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder cancer, uterine cancer and eye cancer.
Hyperthermia is a treatment approach, where the cancer cells are exposed to heat up to 42°C. Hyperthermia is always used in combination with radiation therapy or anti-cancer drugs. Hyperthermia is helpful in the treatment of tumours on the skin, tumours of the head & neck region that may have spread to the lymph nodes, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does radiation weaken the immune system?
Radiation therapy can affect the immune system, especially if the radiation is delivered to the bone marrow, whose key function is to produce immune cells. However, this will not suppress the immune system drastically. Sometime after the treatment, the immune system resumes to function normally. However, if there are any concerns, patients can discuss them with their doctors before the treatment.
2. Will I be able to work during radiation therapy?
Patients undergoing radiation therapy will be able to work in most cases. However, depending on the dose of the radiation received, patients may want to consider taking breaks from work to rest and recuperate before the next session.
We suggest our patients to talk to their employers for alternate work arrangements such as work from home, flexible work hours, taking leaves, etc., as these help patients have a balance between their work and their treatment until the therapy is over.
3. Can I undergo radiation therapy if I’m pregnant?
No, pregnant women cannot undergo radiation therapy as the high-dose radiation may harm the baby. If you suspect your pregnancy at any stage of the treatment, it must be informed to your treating doctor and accordingly, he/she will work on creating alternate treatment plans. Women who are breastfeeding also should inform their treating doctors before undergoing radiation therapy – this is important to protect the baby from the ill effects of radiation.
4. Do I lose weight during radiation therapy?
Cancer treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, etc., have a negative effect on appetite. Other side effects like nausea may also reduce your ability to eat normally. If you are experiencing severe appetite loss and weight loss, you can talk to your treating doctor or an onco-dietician, who can help you with diet plans that will keep you strong during the radiation therapy and help you maintain a healthy weight throughout.