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Therapeutic Services for Radiation-Related Illnesses: Supporting Your Recovery

Acute radiation syndrome (radiation sickness) is a very life-threatening condition resulting from prolonged exposure to ionized radiation. Mostly, it happens after a nuclear or radiological emergency and not from medical examinations or procedures. Depending on the extent of exposure, it often has a unique order of symptoms.

Nuclear or radiological emergencies leading to radiation-related illnesses are rare. However, they may involve a significant number of individuals. For instance, after the Chornobyl nuclear power plant tragedy that happened in 1986, over 6k children developed thyroid cancer.

Why Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy, is often used to treat almost all types of cancer. As a matter of fact, 50% of people with cancer receive radiotherapy as part of treatment.

Radiotherapy can also be used to treat certain conditions that are not cancerous. That includes non-cancerous tumors, like benign tumors.

How Radiotherapy is Used

Experts at UEW Healthcare say that radiotherapy is used for various reasons or at different times when treating radiation-related illnesses. Your oncologist, as well as their team, can suggest radiotherapy:

  • With other forms of treatments, like chemo, to kill cancerous cells.
  • After surgery to prevent the growth of remaining cancerous cells. This is referred to as adjuvant therapy.
  • To ease symptoms that advanced cancer caused
  • Before surgery, so as to shrink cancer. This is often called non-adjuvant therapy.
  • As the only solid treatment for cancer. This is referred to as primary treatment.

Forms of Radiotherapy

Majorly, there are two forms of radiotherapy. These include internal and external beam radiotherapy. The kind of radiotherapy you will have might depend on factors like your overall health history, how near the tumor is to the normal tissues, the location of the tumor, the size of the tumor, and the cancer type.

Internal radiotherapy refers to a treatment where the radiation source is put in the body. The source of radiation can either be liquid or solid. Internal radiotherapy with the solid as a source is referred to as brachytherapy. In this kind of therapy, capsules, ribbons, or seeds containing radiation sources are put in the body.

On the other hand, external radiotherapy comes from a machine aiming a radiation beam to the patient’s cancer. The equipment is big and could be noisy. While it doesn’t touch patients, they move around them, sending radiation to the part of their body from different directions. External radiotherapy can also be called local treatment. This means it can create specific parts of a patient’s body.

Therapeutic Services

Behavioral health programs are established to support patients after, during, and before treatment of radiation-related illnesses like cancer. These programs may include various behavioral healthcare services to improve mental well-being and emotional health.

As part of healthcare, behavioral health recognizes powerful ways mental, behavioral, social, and emotional wellness can impact a patient’s physical health. Apart from behavioral healthcare services, the programs may also include:

  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Adult psychiatry
  • Psychoeducation

Final Touches

Over half of patients with cancer get radiotherapy as treatment. At times, radiotherapy can be the only treatment required. But at times, it can be used with several other forms of treatment to make patients get better.

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