Radiotherapy is the application of high-energy rays for the treatment of tumors. It is one of the most effective methods widely used in cancer treatment. Less frequently, it can be applied in life-threatening but non-cancerous diseases such as vascular aneurysms. Today, in the treatment of cancer, a multidisciplinary approach is preferred, in which different disciplines of medicine are involved in the decision mechanism in choosing the most appropriate treatment for the patient and the disease. Radiotherapy is used alone or in combination with other treatments in the treatment of cancer. The most frequently used concomitant treatments are surgery, hormone therapy, use of targeted agents, and chemotherapy.
Although radiotherapy is usually applied with external treatment devices, it can sometimes be applied internally with the brachytherapy technique. In external radiotherapy, the treatment device is usually linear accelerators. High-energy rays pass through the skin and subcutaneous tissues and reach the target tissues where the tumor is located. In brachytherapy, radiotherapy is applied by placing applicators containing radioactive sources directly into the tumor or body cavities.
Radiation inhibits the spread of cancerous cells by stopping the proliferation of cells or killing cells. It usually exerts this effect on the DNA found in the nucleus of cells. However, it has been shown that in high-dose applications, it can also be effective on cell and tissue parts other than the nucleus. It affects all cells in the tissue and organ to which it is applied, and is not selectively effective on cancerous cells. In treatment planning and application, it is important to protect healthy organs from the effects of radiation by concentrating the radiation only on the target. Making a very careful plan and applying it as carefully planned is decisive in the success of the treatment.
After the decision to apply radiotherapy is made, appropriate patient position, fixation, treatment plan, and application are required for optimal application. Compliance with treatment quality assurance procedures throughout this process is very important in success. Coordinated cooperation of professionals from different disciplines such as Medical Radiation Physics Specialists, Radiotherapy Technicians, and nurses is required in the treatment planning and implementation of the patient.
Radiotherapy side effects vary according to the organ to which it is applied, but are limited to the organ to which it is administered. Radiotherapy application is painless. However, during and after the treatment, side effects may vary depending on the organ, dose, other treatments and patient-related factors. Radiation Oncology Specialists inform patients about possible treatment side effects and start treatment planning and implementation by obtaining their consent. Patients are followed up at regular intervals in order to evaluate the reoccurrence of the disease and side effects by being monitored during and after the treatment.
In external radiotherapy applications, treatment usually takes 4-7 weeks, 5 times a week and 1 fraction per day. Treatment duration and dose vary according to tumor type and location. Daily treatment takes a few minutes. During the treatment, the patient remains alone in the treatment room, but is constantly monitored by a closed-circuit TV system. When necessary, the patient can be talked to.