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What Is Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma?

What Is Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma?

Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is a common treatment for mesothelioma, a type of cancer that typically affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or other organs like the abdomen or heart. This therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells or prevent them from growing and dividing.

The goal of radiation therapy in mesothelioma treatment is to shrink tumors, alleviate symptoms, or slow down the progression of the disease. It can be used in different ways:

  1. As a Primary Treatment: Radiation therapy might be used as the main treatment for mesothelioma, especially when surgery isn’t an option due to the advanced stage of the cancer or the patient’s health condition.
  2. Before Surgery (Neoadjuvant Therapy): Radiation therapy can be used before surgery to shrink the tumor, making it more operable or easier to remove.
  3. After Surgery (Adjuvant Therapy): Following surgery, radiation therapy may be employed to kill any remaining cancer cells that couldn’t be removed during the operation.

Radiation therapy can be delivered externally or internally:

  • External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT): This method involves directing radiation from a machine outside the body towards the affected area. EBRT is precise and targeted, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues.
  • Brachytherapy: In this approach, radioactive materials are placed directly into or near the tumor. The radiation is released over time, targeting the cancer cells while reducing exposure to healthy tissues.

Radiation therapy for mesothelioma might cause side effects, such as fatigue, skin changes, nausea, or difficulty swallowing, depending on the area being treated. However, the treatment team often takes measures to manage these side effects and improve the patient’s comfort during the therapy.

It’s essential for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma to discuss treatment options, including the potential benefits and risks of radiation therapy, with their healthcare team to make informed decisions tailored to their specific condition and overall health. Treatment plans for mesothelioma often involve a combination of therapies, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, depending on the stage and extent of the disease.

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