Radiation therapy can be a vital component of mesothelioma treatment, often used in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the chest or abdomen, often caused by exposure to asbestos.
Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy rays (such as X-rays or protons) to target and kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. It can be administered in different ways:
External Beam Radiation
This is the most common type of radiation therapy for mesothelioma. It involves directing radiation from a machine outside the body toward the cancer site. The goal is to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors.
Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)
This technique involves delivering radiation directly to the tumor during surgery. The advantage is that it allows for targeted delivery of radiation to the affected area while sparing healthy tissues.
In cases where mesothelioma is advanced and a cure isn’t feasible, radiation therapy might be used to alleviate symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. For example, it can help reduce pain or alleviate breathing difficulties caused by tumors pressing on the lungs or surrounding tissues.
Radiation therapy for mesothelioma can have some side effects, which may include fatigue, skin changes, nausea, and sometimes difficulty in swallowing or breathing, depending on the area being treated. However, these side effects are usually temporary and can be managed with medications or other supportive measures.
The specific treatment plan for mesothelioma, including the use of radiation therapy, depends on various factors such as the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, the patient’s overall health, and their treatment goals. Typically, a multidisciplinary team of oncologists, surgeons, and other specialists work together to create an individualized treatment approach for each patient.
It’s important for patients to discuss the potential benefits and side effects of radiation therapy with their healthcare team to make informed decisions about their treatment options.