The Battle Against Cancer: Chemotherapy Vs. Radiation
If you’re suffering from cancer, there are many different treatment options available that can help cure, or at least manage your cancer. However, the key to a fast and effective recovery is finding the right treatment option that meets your health needs. The ideal treatment method can vary, depending on your type of cancer, the stage that it has reached, and your overall health before going into treatment.
After an initial consultation and exams to get an accurate diagnosis and analysis of your cancer, your doctor will be able to put together a personalized treatment plan to efficiently and effectively treat your cancer. At Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center, our team of board-certified physicians and caring staff are ready to help you start on the path to recovery by finding the best treatment for you.
Two of the most common types of cancer treatment are chemotherapy and radiation therapy. While both are designed to effectively kill cancer cells, they are very different forms of treatment in terms of their process, and effect on the body. Below, we’ll go into more detail about the difference between these two forms of treatment.
This treatment method utilizes special drugs that are designed to target and kills cells that divide rapidly. Since rapid division is a core characteristic of cancer cells, the drugs are effective at killing them off. Also, these drugs work through your whole body, not just a specific part, so they can more effectively prevent the cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.
Unfortunately, there are other cells in the body that naturally divide rapidly, such as those in our hair follicles and digestive systems, which is why chemotherapy typically has side effects of hair loss and digestive issues during treatment. Despite these side effects, it is important to remember that the medication is working to kill off the cancer cells.
The drugs are delivered intravenously through an IV or injection, or can be taken orally, providing some versatility to the treatment process as you can receive treatment in a hospital, a doctor’s office, or even in the comfort of your own home.
Radiation Cancer Therapy
Radiation therapy uses highly advanced technology to deliver targeted beams of radiation to kill cancer cells. While chemotherapy delivers drugs to the entire body, radiation aims to reduce the amount of healthy cells that are lost during treatment by targeting only the areas of the body affected by the cancer. Instead of killing the cells themselves, the radiation damages the DNA of the target cells, which causes the cancer cells to die off. While the treatment will affect the healthy cells surrounding the cancer cells as well, the healthy cells have the ability to heal themselves after treatment.
Radiation treatment is delivered during short treatment sessions at a radiation oncology center. The treatment itself only lasts a matter of minutes, and is completely painless. During the treatment, you may have to wear a mask or other protective gear that will block the radiation from affecting other parts of your body. There are several types of radiation therapy, each having its own strengths in combating various forms of cancer. These types of radiation therapy include:
- External Beam Radiation - During external beam radiation therapy, a beam (or multiple beams) of radiation is directed through the skin to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Treatments are typically given five days a week for several weeks.
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery - Stereotactic radiosurgery incorporates a specially designed mapping system that tracks the exact location of the target tumor with pinpoint accuracy. This treatment method is often used to treat small tumors that cannot be removed surgically or treated with conventional therapy.
- Temporary or High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy - Instead of being delivered externally like other forms of radiation therapy, this treatment is delivered internally, in the form of a small implant placed directly onto or near the tumor, delivering targeted radiation over time. Once the treatment is complete, the implant is removed and no radioactivity is left in the body.
Is Radiation Or Chemotherapy Better?
Both radiation and chemotherapy are designed to treat the body and fight cancer cells in different ways. Also, various forms of cancer will respond differently to treatment. Our physicians will work closely with you to go over all of your options, and ensure that you get the best treatment for your unique needs. The physicians of Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center will work with your other medical providers in order to provide you with the most effective, comprehensive treatment.
Contact Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center Today!
As your local radiation cancer therapy center in Soldotna, AK, our team of physicians and treatment staff will help you on your path to wellness. With personalized care focused on healing and comfort, you can trust that you’re in good hands with Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center. Just contact us to schedule an appointment, and we’ll work with you to discover the best treatment methods for you.