Radiation Theory: Myths Busted!

Being diagnosed with cancer could be the toughest time in one’s life. For many, the treatment seems to be a bigger worry than the ailment itself as most cancer treatments raise concerns about more health issues and side effects. Radiation Therapy also brings along many such questions for the patients and their loved ones.

Today, besides chemotherapy and surgery, Radiation therapy is among the most recognized cancer treatments in Australia and the rest of the world. However, despite being a boon for the many cancer patients, many myths still surround Radiation Therapy. Let’s answer common questions that these misconceptions bring to your mind.

Radiation Therapy works selectively, and focuses on the key areas where the cancer is present. Hence, only the affected part of the body is a subject to the radiations. The process minimises radiation application to non-concerned areas and keeps the rest of the body safe.

Myth 1-

Horrible side effects like nausea and hair loss will follow once you start Radiation Therapy.

Fact 1- 

This is not applicable to everyone as not everyone is suffering from the type of same cancer. For example, in breast cancer patients this treatment will not induce side effects like vomiting or hair loss. However, all that could happen is that the patient could lose some hair from the armpit region because of the vicinity to the breasts. Similarly, nausea and vomit would be the side effects for those who are undergoing Radiation Therapy for cancer of the pancreas and stomach cancer. Hair loss is specific to those patients who receive radiation to treat brain cancer. This is because the radiation, in this case, focuses on the head.

Myth 2-

Radiation therapy is extremely painful.

Fact 2-

Radiation therapy actually is a pain-free procedure. While the patients are receiving the radiation, they cannot feel any pain. It is just as if they are taking an X-Ray of the affected part. The breathing during the process is also normal, there are no palpitations felt by the patients. However, after a few days, some side effects can be a reason for discomfort. These will mostly be sore and dry skin in the specific treatment area. Topical treatments offered by health care providers can effectively treat these issues.

Myth 3-

More cancers can develop with Radiation therapy.

Fact 3-

Radiation therapy-induced second cancer is a common belief. However, the chances of an occurrence are about one in a thousand cases. In fact, the effective and advanced techniques used at Targeting Cancer Australia can minimize the risk even further. The slight risk involved has gone considerably down in recent years because of improved treatment standards worldwide.

Myth 4-

All patients seeking Radiation Therapy have to be in isolation throughout the treatment.

Fact 4-

Isolation is less than a rare chance for patients receiving external beam radiation therapy. Such patients can in no way inflict any harm to family, friends and visitors. The patient only needs to be alone while he is receiving active radiations. However, immediately after the session patients can see their loved ones.

Some precautions of contact are applicable in cases where radioactive seeds are implanted internally. This is prevalent in cases with prostate cancer and infrequently for thyroid cancer. The necessary details are shared with the patient and the family by the experts.

Myth 5-

Radiation therapy makes the patient radioactive.

Fact 5-

The external radiation therapy does not leave any radioactive matter in the patient’s body. As a result, the patient is no danger to family, friends, children or even expectant mothers. There is no need for the patient to stay alone away from his or her support circle. Touching, kissing or hugging are allowed and must rather be encouraged.

For a cancer patient and his loved ones, it is absolutely normal to have certain doubts and fears about radiation and it’s after effects. However, considering positives and knowing the facts can save many lives. Radiation Therapy has been an integral part of cancer treatment while new developments in the technology and expertise continue to cure patients while making life hopeful again for cancer patients and their families.