Radiotherapy is often used to treat those with a Cancer diagnosis. It can be used to cure the cancer, make other treatments more effective or to reduce the risk of the cancer returning after treatment. Radiotherapy can be given in several ways and is considered to be a very effective treatment after surgery.
This therapy can be external, where beams of radiotherapy are aimed at the cancer site or internal, where a piece of radioactive metal is placed within the tumour to kill it off. Your medical team will recommend which is the best delivery method for your illness.
Radiotherapy is usually given in several treatment sessions at the hospital spread over a few weeks.
As well as killing cancer cells, unfortunately this treatment can damage some healthy cells in the same area. This may cause some side effects such as sore, red skin (like sunburn), feeling tired, nausea and losing your appetite. Not everyone is affected but some or all of these effects are commonly felt.
Many of these side effects will be treated by your medical team and complementary therapies such as gentle massage and reflexology have been shown to help ease these feelings.
Chemotherapy is the common name for the medicines involved in the treatment of cancers.
A combination of drugs is used to inhibit or stop the growth of tumours. They can be used before surgery (to shrink the tumour) or after (to help prevent any return).
These substances have the ability to damage the DNA that is responsible for the division of cells. Without cell division, tumours will die off. An Oncologist will prescribe these drugs which can be used before, after or instead of surgery. The treatment plan will depend on the type, location and size of tumour. Other factors relating to the patient’s size, age and underlying health will also be considered before the medical team makes their recommendations.
Although Chemotherapy drugs can be very effective in treating tumours, they are powerful and toxic. This can lead to unwanted side effects. Some side effects may last longer than others and many people will feel differently about their body after their treatment has finished.
Most people are aware of hair loss and fatigue as common side effects of these drugs but other symptoms can also occur during and after treatment. These include Anxiety, Brain Fog, Tingling in hands and feet, Aching muscles and Digestive issues.
It is these symptoms and feelings that regular self-care can help with. Relaxation techniques, Massage, Reflexology and Exercise have all been shown to help clients to manage their symptoms during and after treatment. Self-care will also result in a speedier recovery from surgery and return to pre-illness activities.
Massage and other Complementary Therapies are offered by charities such as My Cancer My Choices as well as by specially trained therapists in the private sector.