Radiation Therapy Burns, Side Effects | Cancer Radiotherapy Risks

Question:

Can you tell us about burns suffered by radiation therapy for breast cancer patients. How common is it to have burns during radiation treatment for breast cancer? Can that be prevented?

Answer:

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Radiation burns are one of the radiation hazard’s which occur during the treatment of cancer by radiotherapy. They are defined as reparable or non reparable change occurring in the cell of the tissue either due to direct or indirect effect from any type of radiation.

The alpha and beta particles deposit maximum amount of energy, while the gamma rays deposit lesser amount of energy and hence they are comparatively less hazardous though not totally risk free.

After breast surgery, radiation is done to kill the remaining cancerous cells, repeated exposure to radiation causes skin and the deep tissues to burn, just as any other types of burn injury: blister formation, darkening of the skin, pain and fluid secretion from the wound.

Types of radiation therapy:

External beam therapy is one of the commonly used radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Radiation is given to the predetermined target of the body from out side source. Just as in X-ray, external beam radiation is given in a similar manner, the only difference is the duration of the radiation is longer and the dose of the radiation is high compared to X-ray.

Internal radiation: here the radiation source is directly placed inside the breast tissue and the affected nearby tissue, the advantage is that after implantation there is less irritation

Chances of third degree burns or second degree burns are less with modern instruments as the dose is specifically calibrated.

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