Radiation, unlike other forms of treatment, can be undergone during any diagnosis stage.
However, what many people do not know is that radiation therapy is actually a huge umbrella, with many different forms of the treatment in use.
Learn about the various forms of mesothelioma radiation treatment and how effective each therapy is in fighting the disease.
Traditional radiation treatment uses external radiation, which can bring adverse side-effects while targeting cancerous cells.
Brachytherapy, on the other hand, does not use external radiation and is able to target specific tumors.
With brachytherapy, a small probe is placed inside of a cancerous cell and lets out a slow, steady stream of radiation, shrinking and eventually killing the tumor.
The advantage of brachytherapy over other forms of radiation is that it leaves healthy cells unaffected.
High Dose Radiation
High dose radiation, or HDR, is a radiation dose that is much higher than normal.
The advantages of HDR are two-fold. First, it can be used to target specific tumors while leaving healthy tissues untouched.
Secondly, because of the high dosage, cancer patients have to undergo fewer treatment sessions to get the same results.
Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy
Although generally used for other forms of cancer, such as prostate or heart, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has shown some promise in treating mesothelioma cases.
Using a device called a linear accelerator, IMRT large doses of highly focused radiation to target specific tumors, or portions of tumors, while leaving the surrounding cells untouched.
IMRT treatments have proved very effective in reducing tumor size and increasing patient’s lifespans.
Three-dimensional radiation therapy is one of the most cutting edge forms of cancer treatment that there is, employing information gathered from multiple scans to more effectively target cancer cells.
By using MRIs, CT scans and nuclear imaging, a three-dimensional hologram of a tumor is created that allows radiation targeting to its specific shape and size.
External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation therapy is the most typical form of treatment and is what most people think of when they hear the term radiation.
With external beam radiation, a machine is used to apply radiation to the entire body, targeting existing and developing cancer cells.
While external beam radiation is an extremely effective treatment, it does not discriminate between the patient’s health and cancer cells, resulting in harmful side-effects to the patient.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy
Similar to three-dimensional radiation, image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses a linear accelerator alongside detailed imaging to target cancer cells while leaving normally bodily tissues unaffected.
Prior to each radiation session, a new image will be taken so that the radiation can be targeted directly at the tumor.
This treatment is very effective at killing tumors while reducing the physical effects patients feel from the radiation.
One of the most precise forms of radiation that there is, proton therapy involves beaming proton energy at cancerous cells.
Because protons can only penetrate a few layers of skin and tissue, they can be used to specifically target cancer cells and minimize the effects to the rest of the body.
Proton therapy is usually only effective for cases where metastasis has not occurred and the tumors are concentrated in one area of the body.
Some forms of radiation are not in wide use but are accessible to mesothelioma patients through clinical trials.
Clinical trials are used to test the effectiveness of new and emerging treatments for certain terminal diseases like mesothelioma.
While results from clinical trials are not guaranteed, they can be a good resource for patients who have exhausted traditional treatment methods.