Healthy Living: Radiation treatment
When speaking about cancer treatment, radiation is at the top of the list. Many people don't know exactly how it works. For this edition of Healthy Living, Marcie Fraser filed the following report.
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"When we talk about radiation treatment, we are talking about using energy to actually treat a disease condition, most commonly most cancers,” said Dr. Tia Olds, Radiation Oncologist.
Radiation sterilizes the cancer cells.
"The majority of cancer cells are sterilized, which mean they cannot reproduce themselves. A small number of them are killed directly, but the majority of them cannot reproduce themselves so they die off,” said Dr. Olds.
Radiation is used for many different types of cancer. This is Mary Anne Austin's second time in ten years undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She needs 33 sessions. Each session takes five minutes. Her side effects are mild.
"I have just a slight reddening of the area, like a mild sunburn," said Mary Anne Austin, radiation patient.
Topical cream may help irritated skin.
"We suggest aloe versa, pure if they can get from the plant. That is better apply after daily radiation therapy,” said Dr. Olds.
Markers are needed to carefully pinpoint the targeted area. So, if you see black ink on a person, this may be a marker for the treatment field.
"We prefer tattooing people because a tattoo mark which is permanent ink placed in the skin with a small needle. We know that is a reliable source and that every day that they come in for treatment,” said Dr. Olds.
Kids may have radiation but certain people who are not healthy enough to endure treatment or if you are pregnant, are often not candidates for radiation therapy.
When undergoing cancer treatment, cancer patients need to get plenty of sleep and eat well, but when it comes to vitamins, there is a warning.
"I try to get people to stay off of large doses of antioxidants. When you get radiation therapy, radiation therapy actually uses those free radicals to cause cellular damage to the cancer. Theoretically, if you are getting a lot of antioxidants from other sources, I am not talking about it in food, I mean mega doses of vitamin C and vitamin A because that may interfere with radiation therapy and how it works,” said Dr. Olds.