According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. Mesothelioma is sometimes treated with a combination of therapies including radiation therapy. It’s difficult to treat advanced stages of mesothelioma with radiation, however, because the cancer cells are spread out throughout the lining of the abdomen, lungs, and sometimes heart.
The ACS lists some potential ways that your doctor may use radiation to treat your mesothelioma. They include:
- Adjuvant radiation therapy: After surgery to target any small areas of cancer that remain.
- Palliative radiation therapy: Used to ease symptoms of mesothelioma such as shortness of breath, pain, bleeding, and trouble swallowing.
Types of Radiation Therapy
There are three main types of radiation therapy that are used to treat mesothelioma:
- External beam radiation therapy (EBRT): Uses x-rays from a machine outside the patient's body to kill cancer cells. It is the most common form of radiation therapy for mesothelioma.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): An advanced form of 3-dimensional radiation therapy. It uses a computer-driven machine that moves around the patient as it delivers radiation.
- Brachytherapy: When a radiation source is placed inside the body, it is called brachytherapy. When this type of radiation therapy is used for mesothelioma, the doctor places radioactive material directly into the chest or the abdomen at the site of the cancer. The radiation given off travels only a very short distance, which limits the potential damage to nearby healthy tissues. Brachytherapy is rarely used for mesothelioma cancer.
Possible Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
According to the ACS, side effects of external radiation therapy include fatigue, skin irritation and hair loss where the radiation enters the body. These usually go away once treatment is finished. Chest radiation therapy may cause lung damage and lead to trouble breathing and shortness of breath. Abdominal radiation therapy may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite.
Legal Action While Undergoing Radiation Therapy
If you are having any side effects from radiation therapy, talk with your doctor. If you would like more information about receiving a mesothelioma settlement to ease the burden of your medical expenses, call Sokolove Law today.