Myths About Radiation Therapy

  • One of the most common myth about radiation therapy is that the therapy is painful. It has been seen that when the machine is aiming and delivering the radiation beam, most of the patients have no sense of radiation. Though some may feel a slight warming or tingling sensation but no sensation of pain has been reported. Skin alteration may occur in terms of colour and texture but these side effects develop gradually and go away later on completion of therapy.
  • Radiation therapy make the person radioactive. In external radiation therapy the patient is not radioactive at any given point of time as no radioactive substance is injected in the body. In internal radiation therapy, the radioactive seeds are withdrawn in the surgery room on completion of the therapy and no radioactive component is left in the body.
  • Radiation therapy leads to loss of hair. No hair on the head is lost in radiation therapy, hair loss from head is a side effect of chemotherapy which is a systemic medication. Only hair loss in radiation therapy is from armpits and nipples which grows back later.
  • Nausea and vomiting are other side effects of radiation therapy is another common myth. Radiation therapy is usually used for lymph node and breast area in early stage cancer. For advanced stage cancer if radiation therapy is used then it might cause the above symptoms. Also if the patient is getting chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy then the patient may feel nauseous and vomiting sensation.
  • Radiation therapy raises the risk of getting breast cancer. This is not true. Radiation is given to early stage breast cancer patients to reduce the recurrence risk. Yes there is a relation between cancer and radiation for example young girls who receive chest radiation for Hodgkin's disease have a higher risk of getting breast cancer this is because of the newly developing breast which is especially vulnerable to radiation damage. But this radiation therapy is for therapeutic purposes and targeted towards cancer affected areas of the body.
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