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What Are Vaccines?

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When you hear the word “Vaccine,” you may get this word confused with two other words, “Vaccinations” and ” Immunizations.”

This article will explain simply and exactly what a “Vaccine” is and is not. First of all, a vaccine is administered one of three ways by needle injection, orally by mouth, or by a nasal spray, depending upon the vaccine administered.

There are different kinds of vaccines on the medical marketplace today. All vaccines contain a weakened organism or a killed organism. The vaccine’s purpose is to produce in your body a certain level of immunity against the organism of which its contents are made. Each vaccine’s purpose is to offer you protection against certain diseases or at least minimize the effects of the illness on your body.

Are Vaccines Safe?

Even since vaccines were born, there has been a controversy within the medical community and individuals alike as to the necessity and safety of certain vaccines. Many people do not believe the worth of these vaccines, while much more people know that vaccines lessen all kinds of disease processes and save lives.

For you to understand the risks and benefits of any vaccine that is offered to you, you must that the responsibility of delving deeper into any information available and weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision as to whether you or your family should take any vaccine. Discover how the medical community monitors and makes any vaccine safe, providing many more benefits to you.

Vaccines,

  • Prevent serious diseases, for example, polio, chicken pox, and German measles
  • Increases your immunity
  • Protect you and all those around you from spreading diseases
  • Eliminated certain diseases
  • Prevents disease outbreaks which in turn protect those who cannot be vaccinated for one reason or another
  • Decrease in deaths from different diseases

How Long Do Vaccines Last?

  • Some vaccines are given yearly such as the flu vaccine
  • Some vaccines have an active age limit such as five to ten years such as the tetanus vaccine
  • Some vaccines given as a child require a follow-up booster injection after several years.
  • Some vaccines that are given to you as a child remain in your system, protecting you for life

Side Effects

As with everything else in life you are unique. The way in which you may react to anything is unlike your neighbor. Individuals respond differently to vaccination.

For example, when receiving the flu vaccination, you may have no side effects. Another person may complain of generalized ill feelings. Someone else may complain of some flu symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

None of these side effects are long-lasting and are short-lived causing a bit of inconvenience.

In Conclusion

Making an informed decision regarding vaccinations is vital to you and your children’s health and well-being.

Research shows that some of the diseases that were called “Eliminated” due to this prevention process are now starting to rear their ugly heads.

This surge in some rarely seen diseases is because many people feel that vaccinations are not necessary or important in this day and age. People are refusing any protection that vaccinations offer them. Many parents are refusing to have their children vaccinated with routine childhood vaccinations due to possible side effects.

Each state has certain requirements as to what protection they require children and adults have as a resident of that state. Check with your state regarding the rules and regulations regarding vaccinations.

When traveling abroad, certain vaccinations are required before you can enter your chosen country. You must present documentation that you are protected by certain disease processes prevalent in that country.

 

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Different Types of Immunizations

ivImmunizations have helped safeguard young and old from potentially life-threatening diseases and the spread of harmful viruses for decades. Thousands of fatalities occur each year from infections that could have been prevented by vaccination. How can you stop the spread of intrusive and life-altering diseases from infiltrating your livelihood? Identifying the various diseases that strike frequently will ensure you know what to do next to keep infections from wreaking havoc on your peace of mind. And knowing what different types of immunizations are available can help you know what to expect.

How to Fight these:

Receiving vaccinations for any of the detrimental diseases listed below protects those most vulnerable to succumbing to infectious illnesses such as children, the elderly and those who suffer from weak immune systems.

  • Influenza
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Diptheria
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • Pneumococcal
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Chicken Pox
  • Pertussis( known as a whooping cough)
  • Tetanus
  • Meningococcal
  • Hib
  • HPV

Types of Immunizations/Vaccines

  1. The Inactivated or Killed- This type is administered to prevent afflictions such as influenza, cholera, bubonic plague, and polio. Created from small pieces of bacterium or virus or protein.
  2. Live Virus or Attenuated- Applied to prevent yellow fever, measles, rubella, tuberculosis, and the mumps the live virus uses a weakened or modified form of the virus to trigger a better immunity response.
  3. Toxoids- Carrying a toxin or chemical created by viruses, these immunizations make you immune to the detrimental effects of diseases rather than the virus itself.
  4. Biosynthetic- Synthetic man-made substances found in this immunization type are very similar to portions of a bacteria or viruses. This vaccine prevents Hib viruses otherwise called the Haemophilus influenza type B.

Prevention with a Purpose

Why make sure vaccines or immunizations are up-to-date? Here are a few reasons that make sense to those who are trying to achieve a higher quality of living:

  • Vaccines are cost-effective. Millions of adults go to work every day, a virus can trigger illness that lasts weeks, and cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lost wages. Immunizations are the affordable way to prevent such untimely occurrences from happening.
  • Even the young and healthy can get sick. Ensure you stay that way with vaccines that protect your best interests.
  • Convenience is the bread and butter of society today. Vaccinations play to the need for convenient and logical solutions to any number of inevitable outcomes.
  • Stop the less serious curable illnesses before-hand to lower the likelihood of getting incurable diseases like cancer later on. Hepatitis B and HPV are some of the leading causes of cancer. How do you keep deadly infections away? You get vaccinated.

Whatever type of immunization you or your family is considering, being informed allows you to make the best decisions for your life. Something as common as the flu can infiltrate your household. How you take action to prevent disaster from striking in the form of debilitating illness could change the outcome of your future. Find out how you can live better and longer when you decide that prevention is the practical answer to unwelcome disease.

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Importance of Infant Immunization

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Image is from New Health Advisor

Immunization is one of the most important achievements in the last century. It has saved countless lives while preventing millions of people from getting sick or incurring a lifelong disability. It is a testament to the power of vaccines that many childhood diseases that often resulted in hospitalization or death are now preventable.

It is only natural for a parent to want a good life for their child, a life free of ailments or pain. Immunization is the single most effective way of protecting a child from many serious diseases that exist today. The decision to immunize your child, therefore, is a crucial one since there is no alternative to it.

The Immunization schedule

The vaccine schedule is recommended by the AAP, CDC and most physicians. It is always reviewed on a yearly basis by a group of qualified healthcare providers and changed as necessary based on the latest research.

For your child to be fully protected, they have to be immunized starting at 2 months of age, then 4 months, 6 months and 18 months. Immunization starts at two months since this is the safest time to start the immunization process. Those babies who are not immunized at this time stand a huge chance of developing serious harm if they get sick within the first 2 years of their lives.

It is highly advisable to follow the immunizations schedule keenly and get all the shots on time. Delaying the vaccination process can be risky. Below are some of the reasons why it is best to follow the immunization schedule;

  • It will ensure your child is protected as soon as it can be.
  • The routine schedule is based on the best science today and is safe and works well.
  • Your child will get used to the needle and this will reduce their anxiety.
  • The risk factor for side effects remains the same whether you take one vaccine or four.
  • You will have fewer visits to get your child’s shots if you follow the schedule.

Common Infant Immunization Myths

  • Vaccines cause autism- there has not been any direct link that has been established between autism and vaccines.
  • Vaccines can cause serious side effects- since it is always mandatory for a child to have a physical evaluation by a trained medical professional, it is rare to have a child develop an allergy or fatality.
  • Vaccines are not needed- Vaccination has led to a decrease in serious diseases that are fatal and a drop in vaccination will lead to a resurgence of these diseases.
  • It is okay to skip some vaccines- once a vaccination is skipped, the only thing protecting the child is the immunity of the people around them.
  • Infant immunization is too early- children are immunized at an early age since this is the time they are at risk of having fatal complications.

Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child

  1. It can save your child’s life- vaccination can now protect your child from more diseases than ever before, all thanks to the progress being made in science. A good example is polio which used to be one of the most feared diseases in the world and now there are no reports of it.
  2. Vaccines are safe and effective- after much review from doctors and scientists, vaccines have proven to be safe.
  3. Immunization protects those around you- there are still cases of babies who die from vaccine-preventable diseases because they are too young to be vaccinated, by ensuring you and your kin are vaccinated, you are also protecting these babies.
  4. Saves time and money by saving you from prolonged disabilities.

 

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Understanding the Importance of Immunization

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Image is from Impatient Optimists

Many health professionals recommend immunization for protection against diseases. Immunizations are where you get vaccinated with weakened antigens to prevent you from getting that illness. It works by making your immune system produce antibodies to fight off that particular infection ensuring you get added immunity.

These diseases you are vaccinated against, are usually infectious and can be difficult to treat. Immunizations are usually given to children at a young age. There are vaccination campaigns encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated and for adults who were not vaccinated to get their vaccines. However, there is need to understand the importance of immunization and why every child should get vaccinated as early as possible.

  • Immunizations save the lives of children. New-born children get their immunity from their mothers. However, the immunity runs out within the first year, and they become more susceptible to getting infections. Through getting vaccinated, children get protection from diseases that were once fatal. Some diseases have been eradicated as a result of these vaccinations.
  • Vaccinations are effective, and there are no serious side effects after getting immunized. All vaccines undergo extensive testing and review to ensure they are safe for administration. Other than the initial soreness at the entry point, it is extremely rare for people to get seriously affected by the vaccine.
  • By getting all your vaccines, you protect those around you. Immunizations make sure your immune system is strong enough to fight infections. As a result, you will not spread infections to those who have weaker immune systems. Children and adults who are not vaccinated can pass these dangerous diseases to those who have compromised immune systems like those who have cancer or do not respond to vaccines or children who are too young to get immunized. These diseases can result in long-term complications or even death.
  • Immunizations save you time and money that would have been spent treating diseases that are preventable. In some schools and child care facilities, children who are not vaccinated are denied attendance since they pose a risk to the other children. When they get an infection, you will have to spend a lot of money getting treatments that can be avoided at an early age. You will also have to take time from work to take care of the child, and all this would have been prevented by getting the child vaccinated at an early age.
  • Immunization also protects future generations by eradicating very dangerous infections. Through vaccines, smallpox has been eradicated worldwide, and children no longer need to get the vaccination since the disease does not exist. The risk of pregnant women passing rubella to their unborn children has also greatly reduced as a result of getting vaccinated at an early age. Through immunization, other diseases are expected to be eradicated making it safer for future generations.
  • Since you interact with different people, it is easy to get infections if you are not vaccinated. Immunizations ensure that you can safely interact with foreigners without the risk of getting diseases they might unknowingly be carrying.
  • Vaccinations reduce the risk of disease outbreaks, especially in school. Outbreaks usually occur when children are not immunized.
  • Vaccination gives children protection against serious illnesses and the complications that arise as a result of these illnesses. These complications include paralysis, deformities, amputations, brain damage and in severe cases death.

It is recommended to ensure children get immunized at an early age to reduce the chances of getting an infection. Through immunization, you get increased immunity without having to get sick first.

 

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What is Oral Cancer?

OralCancerAwarenessMonth_infographic

Image is from Market My Laser

Oral cancer is a persistent growth or sore inside the mouth that is caused by an uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage. It will not go away on its own. It includes the following surrounding tissues:

  • Throat
  • Tonsils
  • Sinuses
  • Hard and Soft Palate
  • Floor of the Mouth
  • Cheeks
  • Tongue
  • Lips

What are the Symptoms?

There are numerous symptoms associated with oral cancer. The most common ones are:

  • Any lesions or swelling on the lips, gums, or other areas inside your mouth
  • Unexplained oral bleeding
  • Unexplained numbness, tenderness, or pain in any areas of the mouth, face or neck
  • Persistent sores in the mouth or the neck and face that do not heal within two weeks.
  • Red, white, or red and white speckled patches in your mouth
  • A feeling that something is caught in the back of your throat
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Chronic sore throat, hoarseness, or change of voice
  • Earache
  • A change in your teeth or the way your dentures fit together
  • Large weight loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to make an appointment with your dentist or primary care physician as soon as possible.

Who is at Risk?

It is estimated that over 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Men face twice the risk than women, and men over the age of 50 face the greatest risk of all.

Oral cancer risk factors include:

  • Smoking. Whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe, you are six times more likely to contract oral cancer than nonsmokers.
  • Using smokeless tobacco. Chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip makes you 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the lining of the lips, gums, or cheeks.
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol. You are six times more likely to contract oral cancer than nondrinkers.
  • Family history of cancer. If cancer runs in your family, then you are more genetically predisposed.
  • Too much sun. If you have excessive exposure to the sun, especially when you are young, it increases your odds of contracting oral cancer.
  • If you have been diagnosed with HPV (Human Papillomavirus), some strains put you at a higher risk for contracting oral cancer.

It is important to note, however, that 25% of diagnosed cases of oral cancer do occur in nonsmokers and social drinkers.

What Can You Do to Prevent a Diagnosis?

There are some things you can do to lower your risk, such as:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, and do not smoke or use any tobacco products.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun, and when you are out in the sun, apply UV-A/B sun blocking products on your skin and lips.

Early Detection is Key

The earlier you see any symptoms, the greater the chance of successful treatment. You can also take an active role in early detection by doing the following:

  • Do a Self Exam Once per Month – Use a bright light and a mirror to examine all the surfaces of your mouth and lips. Feel for lumps and thoroughly look over every part of your mouth, throat, and gums. Check for enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. If you find anything suspicious, contact your health care professional immediately.
  • See your Dentist Regularly – No matter how thorough, you can’t always see everything, so ask your dentist to conduct an exam at your next visit.

Remember, understanding what oral cancer is and how to detect it increases your chances of successful treatment.

 

 

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Understanding Sarcoma Cancer

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Sarcoma is a very rare form of cancer. It is also different from most types of cancer because it occurs and grows in connective tissue. The cancer cells grow in parts of the body that support or connect other types of tissue to the body. While the tumors can appear anywhere, they are most commonly found in the muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, fat, and nerves. They are also seen in the blood vessels of the legs and the arms. There are over 50 types of sarcoma and they are divided into three categories, bone sarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma, and osteosarcoma.

Who Is At Risk Of Developing Sarcoma?

It is unknown exactly what causes sarcoma, however, there are certain risk factors that make it more likely for people to develop this type of cancer.

  • Radiation exposure: If you had radiation to treat a previous cancer, you are more at risk.
  • Family history: If a member of your family had sarcoma, your chances of getting it are higher.
  • Genetic disorders: Certain genetic disorders such as retinoblastoma, neurofibromatosis, Gardner syndrome, or Li-Fraumeni syndrome put you at greater risk.
  • Bone disorder: If you have the bone disease called Paget’s disease, you are at risk of developing sarcoma.
  • Age: Children and young adults are more prone to developing an osteosarcoma.

What Are the Symptoms of Sarcoma?

In its early stages, sarcoma doesn’t show any symptoms. They can be hard to spot because they can grow anywhere in your body. If it is a soft tissue sarcoma, the first sign would be a painless lump. As it grows larger, it can press against the nerves or muscles causing pain. An osteosarcoma shows symptoms much earlier than the other types. There would be pain in the effected bone that comes and goes. Also, the pain is often worse at night. The area can also swell.

What Is the Treatment For Sarcoma?

How the cancer is treated would depend on the type, where it is located, and whether or not it has spread to other parts of the body. The most common treatments include:

  • Surgery: A doctor can perform surgery and remove the tumor from the body. It is possible for the doctor to remove the cancer cells, therefore, there would be no need for the effected limb to be amputated. If all of the cells cannot be removed, amputation might be your only chance of survivial.
  • Radiation: If surgery isn’t an option, radiation is used. It can also kill any cells left behind after another treatment.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is used either with surgery or if surgery isn’t possible. It is also used if the cancer has spread.
  • Targeted therapies: This is a relatively new treatment and the doctors use man made antibodies from the immune system. They are placed to block the growth of cancer cells without damaging any of the normal cells.

What is the Survival Rate For Someone With Sarcoma?

In most cases, soft tissue sarcoma can be cured with one surgery. If it is an aggressive tumor and the cancer has spread, it can be harder to treat. With osteosarcoma, if the cancer has not spread the survival rate is between 60 and 80 percent. If the cancer can be completely removed with surgery, the chance of a full recovery is excellent. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the treatment would need to be more aggressive and the chances of being cured completely are much lower.

Sarcoma is a rare and serious type of cancer. If it is caught early enough, the chances of survival are great.

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What is Colon Cancer?

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Image is from Everyday Health

Colon cancer is the accumulation of cancer cells in the lower part of the large intestine. These tumors typically begin as small benign growths referred to as polyps that turn into malignant tumors over time.

Stages of Colon Cancer

When a patient is diagnosed with colon cancer, they will be diagnosed with a stage of the disease, depending on it advancement. Colon Cancer is broken up into stages Tis to T4b.

  • Tis -In this stage, cancer cells are only found in the top layers on lining in the colon.
  • T1 –At this stage, the cancer cells have begun to spread to the tissue below the lining of the colon.
  • T2 – During stage T2, the cancer cells have developed into the deeper tissue that is involved in pushing along waste during the digestive process.
  • T3 – At T3 the cancer has spread to the connective tissue that connects the colon to other parts of the body, as well as permeating into some of the other surrounding tissues.
  • T4a – At this point the cancer cells have grown throughout all parts of the colon.
  • T4b – At this final stage the cancer cells have spread past the colon into other parts of the body.

What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Symptoms of colon cancer can come on suddenly or develop gradually over time. Often times symptoms of colon cancer are mistaken for gastrointestinal issues or discomfort. Some symptoms of colon cancer include,

  • Blood in the stool
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Abnormal changes in your bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a month
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Fullness in bowel even after going to the bathroom.

Risks for Colon Cancer

While there is no specific cause for every case of colon cancer there are risks that may make you more likely to develop colon cancer.

History of Polyps

While many times polyps are found and easily removed, repeated development of polyps is linked to an increase in colon cancer.

Low Fiber Diet

Low fiber and high fat diets have been linked to an increased chance for developing polyps and colon cancer.

Obesity

Those with a BMI in the obesity level have an increased risk of getting colon cancer as well as an increased risk of suffering more complications from it.

Inflammatory Gastrointestinal Problems

Chronic disease of the gastrointestinal track, including colitis and Crohns disease, can increase the risk of development of colon cancer.

Age

Most colon cancer patients are 50 years of age or older.

Genetics

A family history of colon cancer increases your chance of developing the disease as well. There are also genetically passed conditions that can greatly increase your risk for colon cancer including,

  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, otherwise known as lynch syndrome
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis, which leads to an increase of the development of polyps in the colon.

Diagnosing Colon Cancer

Diagnosis of colon cancer is either done through routine screenings that are part of annual physicals or testing when gastrointestinal problems are present. To diagnose colon cancer patients will,

  • Receive blood tests to check for cancer markers
  • Undergo a colonoscopy which involves a camera scope of the patient’s rectum, colon and intestinal track.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for colon cancer are typically determined based on the stage of cancer the patient is in. Treatment options can include,

  • Polyp removal during colonoscopy
  • Partial colectomy
  • Removal of lymph nodes
  • Colon resection
  • Targeted drug therapies
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation treatment

When it comes to treating colon cancer, routine wellness screenings are important as early diagnosis will lead to the best prognosis.

 

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Symptoms of Sarcoma Cancer

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Image is from Sarcoma Foundation of America

Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that forms in the connective tissues of the bones, tendons, muscles, nerves, cartilage, blood vessels, fat, and other areas within the body. While there are dozens of types of sarcoma cancer, they are typically broken down into two main types, including soft tissue sarcoma and osteosarcoma.

Hard to Detect Sarcoma Cancer

Not only does this type of cancer only affect a small percentage of the population, it also can be extremely difficult to detect. This is because the cancer is not specific to one area of the body, but rather it can be practically anywhere throughout the body. Another issue that makes detection difficult is the fact that the cancer starts to grow in the connective tissues. This allows the tumor to grow undetected for quite some time. This makes it very important to know what the various symptoms of sarcoma cancer are.

Symptoms of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Unfortunately, most people experience no symptoms during the early stages of sarcoma. As the tumor in the soft tissues grows, it can push against the nearby nerves. This, in turn, can cause a person pain or soreness in the area of the tumor or a shortness of breath. The most common areas affected by soft tissue sarcoma are the knees, legs, shoulders, abdomen, and hips. Other common areas include the arms, hands, head, and neck.

Symptoms of Osteosarcoma

Although adults are not immune to osteosarcoma, it is most common among young adults and children. Like soft tissue sarcoma, osteosarcoma is hard to detect, especially during the early stages. The first sign is bone pain in the area of the cancer. Since, children frequently experience growing pains, this early symptom is often overlooked.

The primary differences between pain associated with osteosarcoma and other types of pain are that the pain usually worsens in the evening and the pain is centralized in just one arm or leg and not both. Within a few weeks of the first sign of pain, you may notice some swelling in the affected area. The pain and swelling may eventually cause a slight limp.

Due to the difficulty of detecting sarcoma cancer, it is extremely important that you discuss any unusual pain with your doctor. A biopsy, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, and/or bone scan are often used to diagnose sarcoma. In many cases, sarcoma is treated with just surgery, if caught early enough.

 

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Catch the Signs of Cancer Early

Cancer Cells

Image is from Humans Are Free

No matter how healthy you are, it is important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of cancer. This will enable you to prevent it or treat it as early as possible if you happen to have cancer. Moreover, your doctors can have solid information on your condition. In this way, a more accurate method of cancer treatment can be applied to cure it.

There are many signs and symptoms of cancers you should watch out for. Below are the ones both men and women should take note:

Pain

Pain is the most common symptom in many illnesses. But when it occurs, many people would suspect it to be associated with cancer, especially if the pain is unusual and excruciating.

There are different types of pains you can experience depending upon the type of cancer you have. If you have a brain tumor, you may experience a severe headache all the time. If you have testicular cancer or bone cancer, you will experience the pain right in the beginning stage of these cancers.

Weight Loss

Weight loss has several factors. There are some illnesses that can reduce your appetite for food. As a result, your reduced diet makes you lose weight. However, there are illnesses that can automatically make you lose weight quickly without affecting your diet. The most common of which is cancer.

Cancer consumes a lot of protein. This is because the immune system produces antibodies that also require these proteins. This process inside the body is constant, and it eventually depletes the fats and the protein in the body.

Fatigue

Fatigue is another symptom of cancer. Although it can also be a symptom of other illnesses, the fatigue of a cancer patient can experience is somewhat regular. There are times you feel so stressed you almost would like to vomit. Moreover, you will notice that you easily get tired even during even simple movements.

On the other hand, there are also times you seem so tired even without doing anything. This is probably because your heart pumps more frequently than normal.

Fever

Fever that occurs out of nothing means you have an infection inside your body that is growing and spreading. When your body is being attacked by bacterial or cancer infection, our body naturally fights them. Our immune system uses the available resources we have in our body. As a result, our body seems to feel stressed and weak. This condition also weakens our immune system in the long run, so we tend to suffer from fever.

Skin Degeneration

If you have cancer, your skin degenerates. It gets dry and pale, and you will also notice some moles, marks, or bumps. Your skin texture changes depending on the type of cancer you have. Some cancer patients notice their skin to be yellowish while others become red or hairy.

Sores

Sores do not automatically appear when you suffer from cancer. However, they don’t seem to heal when you accidentally have some. This is also the same case with diabetes. The reason behind it is that your antibodies are busy fighting the cancer cells. As a result, less and less antibodies are assigned to heal the sores.

Conclusion

Symptoms may vary from one person to another. In addition, some symptoms may be associated with another illness. Furthermore, every symptom has different levels or degrees of severity. The above signs and symptoms may help you determine whether or not you suffer from cancer. Nevertheless, it is recommended you consult your doctor if you experience such early signs and symptoms.

 

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Radiation Therapy

Radiation-Therapy

Image is from MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

If there is one illness that many people are afraid of, it’s cancer. This is because cancer is one of the most fatal illnesses that is hard to treat. Moreover, there is really no definite treatment for it yet.

Although chemotherapy is the most popular treatment for cancer, there is still no guaranty it can cure all types of cancer. This is why another type of treatment has been developed to treat cancer. This treatment is called radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy Explained

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation such as gamma rays and X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This happens with the help of three types of radiation therapy such as:

  • External-Beam Radiation Therapy
  • Internal Radiation Therapy or Brachytherapy
  • Systemic Radiation

External-Beam Radiation Therapy

This type of radiation therapy is done with the use of a radiation machine. The machine is similar to the X-ray machine will release its charged particles through a beam radiation. The radiation will penetrate the cancer-infected area from outside the body.

Internal Radiation

Internal radiation, on the other hand, is the method of directly placing the radioactive materials in the area around cancer cells. The process is a bit complicated, but it can be more potent.

Systemic Radiation

Meanwhile, systemic radiation treatment is the use of radioactive substances that can move through the blood to reach the areas with cancer cells. This works like a regular medicine in the sense that the substances are absorbed into the blood stream. An example of a radioactive substance is radioactive iodine.

How Does Radiation Therapy Work Against Cancer?

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging cell DNA. This also can happen by creating free radicals within the cells that kills the cancer as well.

Does Radiation Therapy Kill Other Cells?

The drawback in using radiation therapy is that it kills not only the cancer cells but also other cells nearby. This problem causes side effects depending on which cells are damaged as the result of killing cancer cells. Nevertheless, our tissues have a certain level of tolerance against radiation. It’s your doctor who will determine such levels before this treatment is performed.

Why Is Radiation Therapy Needed?

Radiation therapy is a powerful treatment against cancer. It’s so strong that other cells may also be sacrificed in the process. Nonetheless, the result is significant. It’s needed when the purpose is to completely eliminate the cancer. This means radiation therapy is used for curative intent, and it can also be used for palliative care to shrink tumors.

On the other hand, radiation therapy can also be applied along with chemotherapy. It can also be used for curative intent, control treatment, and palliative care at the same time.

How Is Radiation Therapy Scheduled?

Before radiation therapy is scheduled, your oncologist will ask you to undergo several tests such as CT scans, MRI, PET, and ultrasounds. All such tests will determine the location and the position of cancer infections inside the body. Once identified, radiation therapy will be applied in the target areas.

Conclusion

Radiation therapy may be much stronger than chemotherapy. However, there are risks involved as the radiation can also damage other non-cancer cells. Radiation therapy is ideal for curative intent as it requires patients to be much healthier and tolerant against certain radioactive materials and substances.

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