Radiation Therapy for Oral Cancer: How Does It Work?

Radiation Therapy For Oral Cancer

Radiation therapy for oral cancer, This therapy kills oral cancer cells by exposing the patient to radioactive materials or external radiation beams. After surgery, radiation therapy is most frequently used to destroy any cancer cells that might still be present in the oral cavity. Physicians may suggest radiation therapy in place of surgery if they believe it can eradicate an oral cancer tumor while maintaining the ability to speak, swallow, and chew.

Sometimes, combining radiation therapy with chemotherapy or certain medications is another option. This method, known as chemoradiation, is usually advised in cases when there is a high chance that cancer cells will survive even after surgery.

What is Radiation Therapy?

radiation therapy for oral cancer

Radiation therapy, also referred to as radiotherapy, is one type of cancer treatment. This treatment uses intense laser beams to kill cancer cells. The most common usage of X-rays is in radiation therapy. Nevertheless, more types of radiation therapy exist, including brachytherapy, chemoradiation, and proton radiation.

Radiation treatments destroy cells’ genetic material. The development and division of cells are controlled by the genetic code. Radiation therapy has the potential to harm both healthy and malignant cells. But healthy cells can mend themselves more readily than cancerous cells can. The goal of radiation treatment is to treat cancer while causing the least possible harm to healthy cells.

Radiation therapy can be provided externally or internally inside the body. The most common kind of radiation therapy is external beam radiation therapy. A linear accelerator is a large device used in this treatment. High-energy beams are directed by the device at a particular location on your body.

Also Read- Immunotherapy For Oral Cancer: How Does it Work.

How cancer patients are treated with radiation therapy

Depending on your cancer treatment plan, radiation therapy may be given for a variety of purposes or at different periods. The medical staff may recommend radiation: As it is the initial treatment and the only means of treating cancer, To reduce cancer before surgery, which is referred to as neoadjuvant therapy, To prevent the growth of any leftover cancer cells after the surgery that is known as the adjuvant therapy. In addition to other therapies, such as chemotherapy, to destroy cancer cells, and to decrease the signs and symptoms of advanced cancer.

Common Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

The following are the most common side effects of radiation therapy on the oral cavity:

  • Changes in the skin that will look like a sunburn
  • Voicelessness
  • Taste changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakened teeth
  • Pain
  • Sores
  • Redness in the mouth
  • Tightness of the facial muscles and the surrounding areas of the jawbones, resulting in difficulty eating, chewing, and speaking

External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

The most common kind of radiation treatment for treating oral cancer, as well as cancer that has spread to other organs, is called (EBRT). It directs radiation at the cancer from an external source. A relatively flexible but durable mesh head and neck mask may be produced just before EBRT so that your shoulders, head, and neck are held in exactly the same position during each treatment.

Certain individuals may experience a sense of captivity while wearing this mask, thus they may need to request medication to assist them relax throughout the procedure. The mask may be adjusted at times to make sure that it is not overly restrictive. Talk to your radiation oncologist about other options. The treatment is comparable to an x-ray but with a higher radiation dosage. Each treatment only takes a few minutes, and the technique is painless. Getting you situated for treatment often requires more time during the setup phase.

Different Types Of Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy comes in two main forms: internal and external radiation therapy.

External Radiation Therapy

The radiation machine does not make contact with your body as it goes around it. You won’t feel anything during your treatments because it doesn’t hurt. The most used method of radiation therapy is external beam radiation. It is generated by devices known as linear accelerators. 

●      3D Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)

The doctor is able to more accurately target the tumor with the help of 3D imaging. A computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine is used to create the images. In order to precisely conform to the shape of cancer, the radiation beams can be directed from a wide variety of angles.

●      Intensity- Modulated Radiation treatment (IMRT)

This technique is comparable to the first one, but it allows the physician to better avoid neighboring normal cells and minimize side effects by adjusting (or “modulating”) the amount of radiation received from each beam.

●      Proton Beam Radiation Therapy

Instead of using X-rays to target the tumor, proton beam radiation therapy is used. Protons only go so far, thus the tissues behind the tumor are exposed to relatively little radiation, unlike X-rays, which pass through the patient and produce radiation both before and after they impact the tumor. Radiation exposure to the tissues ahead of the tumor is lower than that of the tumor itself. This indicates that radiation from proton beams can reach cancer cells with less harm to neighboring healthy tissues. Certain tumors of the oral cavity can be treated with proton beam radiation due to the proximity of numerous important tissues. In some situations, proton treatment may be an appropriate option when X-rays are not.

Internal Radiation Therapy

●      Brachytherapy

Medical professionals use brachytherapy to treat a variety of diseases, including cancer.

It entails introducing radioactive material internally. This is known as internal radiation therapy at some times. Radiation is applied directly to the treatment area using brachytherapy. This reduces the possibility of damaging neighboring healthy tissue.

With brachytherapy, a higher dose of radiation can be safely administered all at once, which can result in a shorter total treatment duration.

Oraal Spray

Oraal spray

One kind of medication spray that treats oral mucositis brought on by radiation therapy or chemotherapy is called an oraal spray. To achieve the best outcomes, Oraal spray uses a three-pronged approach that targets pro-inflammatory proteins, poisons, and pollutants. Oral mucositis is treated with the ORAAL SPRAY in a multi-layered approach. Pain and mucositis are reduced with the Oraal spray after just two days of treatment. It has been proven to reduce burns and infections associated with oral mucositis, in addition to its benefits for mucositis and pain.

FAQ’s- Radiation Therapy for Oral Cancer

Q-What is the cost of radiation therapy for oral cancer?

Radiation therapy typically costs between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 20,00,000 in India, depending on the suggested type of radiation technology. However, the costs could vary based on the hospitals situated in different cities.

Q- What is the duration of radiation therapy for oral cancer?

Some patients may undergo one round of radiation therapy, while others may have treatments every one to eight weeks, depending on the aim of the treatment.

Q- What is the success rate of radiation therapy for oral cancer?

When paired with chemotherapy, the 5-year survival rate for patients with oral cancer treated with radiation therapy (RT) increased to 66.9%, even in those with stage 3 or 4. Those treated with RT alone had a 15% 5-year survival rate.

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