Monthly Archives: February 2019

Everything you need to know about Radiation Therapy for Cancer before Treatment

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy uses waves of electronically generated radiation to treat cancers and tumors, as well as some other conditions.

This Radiation breaks up the DNA of cancer cells in a way that disrupts their growth and division and can even kill them.

The form of radiation used in cancer therapy is a high-energy type known as ionizing radiation.

Radiation therapy are of 2 types;

External beam radiation therapy.

During this type of radiation, the high-energy beams come from a machine outside of your body that aims the beams at a precise point on your body. The beams are guided & planned as per the CT Scan image taken.

Internal Radiation Therapy

This Radiation treatment is known as brachytherapy radiation in which radioactive implant is placed inside your body close to the tumour.

Sometimes the patient only is given radiation treatment, otherwise they are given concurrent treatment along with Chemotherapy or surgery (Pre or Post)

More than 70% patients need Radiation Therapy for Cancer Treatment in India.

How does radiation therapy work on people with cancer?

  • Your doctor may suggest radiation therapy at different times during your cancer treatment and for different reasons, including:
  • As the only treatment for cancer
  • Before surgery, to shrink a cancerous tumour (neoadjuvant therapy)
  • After surgery, to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells (adjuvant therapy)
  • In combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, to destroy cancer cells (Con-current)
  • In advanced cancer to alleviate symptoms caused by the cancer. (Palliative treatment)

What are the Side effects?

The side effects of radiation therapy occur when non-cancerous cells are also affected by the treatment.

Side effects varies from patient to patient depending on their case history & other factors.

Short-term side effects

  • Short-term effects of radiation treatment are:
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • skin irritation, including swelling, blisters, and a sunburned or tanned appearance
  • Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhoea
  • Occurs Rarely- a drop in the number of white blood cells or platelets

Long-term side effects

Long-term effects also depend on the site of treatment and can include:

  • Stiffening and restricted movement: After neck therapy, for example, the jaw can stiffen. This can occur as a result of tissue scarring. Exercises may be advised after cancer surgery and radiation therapy to help loosen movement.
  • Skin effects: These include delayed wound healing and a spidery red or purple appearance caused by dilated capillary blood vessels. There can be skin darkening as well on the affected area but eventually subsides.
  • Diarrhoea and bleeding: These can occur when abdomen receives radiation therapy.

Not all of the above are likely to occur with radiation therapy. The likelihood of getting any one of the longer-term side effects depends largely on the individual& the treatment facility they are being treated in.

 Are there Special Dietary Needs for patients?

Radiation can cause side effects that makes it difficult to eat Problems such as mouth sores, nausea and throat problems can occur. Since your body uses a lot of energy to heal during radiation therapy, it is important that you eat enough calories and protein rich foods to maintain your weight during treatment& to avoid fatigue. You can consult an Inhouse Nutritionist for a proper diet plan as it can vary from patient to patient

Work Routine during Radiation Therapy

Many people are able to work full-time during radiation therapy. Few of them can work only part-time or not at all. How much you are able to work depends on how you feel. Ask your doctor or nurse what you may expect from the treatment you will have beforehand.

Cancer in India- Why is this disease on an exponential rise in the past few decades?

The cancer burden in India has more than doubled over the last 26 years. The highest increase among all therapy areas, with breast cancer being the most common among Indian women, according to a recent report.

To understand the rise in this disease, we must understand the core…There is a myriad of chemicals in our environment. They make up everything around us, including our bodies. While chemicals like carbon and oxygen are essential to life, there are some that are toxic and cancer-causing known as carcinogens. These carcinogens damage DNA and the way cells work. Our bodies are engineered with built-in defenses to stop and correct the damage. However, sometimes these safety mechanisms fail to allow uncontrolled cell growth, known as cancer. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells hide from the immune system and create tumors that have their own blood supply while invading other organs.

Scientists are constantly researching chemicals individually to see if they trigger cancer. The research shows that a series of chemical changes produce properties that eventually cause cancer. With various new chemicals being produced for commercial use, scientists have determined that a combination of these may lead to a cascade that affects healthy cells and makes them cancerous.

While it may not be possible to avoid all consumer chemicals, there are things we can do to reduce our risk of contracting the disease.

Thousands of women face breast cancer despite eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol consumption and exercising often. This is because environmental pollutants and stress play a significant role. Chemicals in food, water and homes can alter the way breast cells mature. It is believed that curtailing environmental pollutants and simplifying our food supply chain could help in cutting the risk. More ways to mitigate the risk is by cutting down on fast foods, canned foods, eating lower fat meat and dairy products and making the switch to organics. Due to the obesity, lack of exercise and a proper diet, colon and rectal cancers are also escalating in number. Processed meat, which increases the exposure to N-nitroso compounds are known to cause colorectal cancers.

The best way to prevent this disease from developing and taking over our bodies it is imperative to:-

  • Eat rich, fibrous vegetables and fruits that are full of anti-oxidants
  • Reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and radiation
  • Curtailing alcohol consumption
  • Eliminating tobacco
  • Keeping a check on stress levels
  • Consume only low-fat dairy and meats
meenakashi blog photo

Fighting against Cancer to Working Towards Cancer

My name is Meenakashi Nayak and I am 53 years old now. I got married in the year 1991 & in 1992 we were blessed with a baby boy. Since my childhood, I was weak Healthwise but I started feeling weaker post-delivery. I had even gained a remarkable amount of weight post that. Due to delivery being a caesarean procedure, it was physically not possible for me to move due to which I couldn’t breastfeed the baby.

During the initial months of 2013, the initial symptoms surfaced. I started experiencing nipple discharge & a small lump in the breast. I discussed it with my gynecologist & relatives who very confidently told me to not worry as it is common with people going through menopause. Since everyone around me said the same thing, I ruled out every other possibility & went on with my routine life.

During the year of 2014 -2015 I was susceptible to various infections & used to fall sick very often. I had a constant cough, fever & cold. Any change in climate, water, etc would easily show its effect on me. My health was in a very fragile state.

In October 2015, I happened to hear an interview relating to cancer on the radio. It was conducted by Onco-Life Cancer Centre. The doctor spoke in detail of the symptoms of cancer, the importance of getting tests done & some cases of previous patients. I very attentively heard each & every word of that interview. I could identify various symptoms being said in that radio interview. The very next day I decided to get myself tested in the hospital.

After my doctor consultation, I was advised to get mammography done. Once the report was out, I was immediately asked to get a biopsy done since there was a suspicion of cancer. I was detected with Breast Cancer 3rd stage. When the news reached me, I was devastated. All I knew is I wanted to live. I didn’t want to die so soon. A tsunami of negative thoughts started running in my head. I was in emotional turmoil. I was also worried about my son & husband as to how will they manage without me. But gladly this feeling didn’t last for long.

For people like me who did not know much about cancer except that it’s a death sentence it was hard to believe I could in any way survive this. My Husband’s friend some years back was detected with 3rd stage abdomen cancer & lost his battle against it in spite of paying 25 lakhs for the treatment. Being from a middle-class family, I too had financial constraints. I had decided to not take the treatment & spend whatever life I have left close to my loved ones.

But the way I was given counseling by my doctor & in-house counselors, I could see a ray of hope & decided to go ahead with the treatment. My doctor even assured me that my cancer can be treated. He promised me I can lead a normal healthy long-life post treatment & that he can even give me in writing if needed.

My line of treatment & schedule was decided upon. In the month of February, I started with my Chemotherapy Treatment of 6 cycles within 21 days. In the month of June, I was operated & later in August, I was given Radiation Treatment. During Chemotherapy, I lost my hair within the first 24 hours & side effects started kicking in. Weakness, vomiting & lose motions. Though surprisingly my platelet count was not affected. It was a very difficult stage & even difficult to maintain composure during that time.

It has been 2 years now since I am cancer free & totally healthy. Never felt more energetic & well. Post-treatment all the infection problems, falling sick, etc disappeared. Never thought I could come back from it this way. I always was given counseling by hospital personnel throughout the treatment which helps me to fight against this so-called deadly disease. My PET/CT Scan report proves that I am totally cancer free now. I have now started doing yoga & meditation daily for 2 hours & leading a healthier lifestyle. I have become more mentally strong. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?

I owe everything to the doctor, my husband, my son & Onco-Life for giving me a new healthier life. I have now started working for Onco-Life Cancer Centre itself as an In-house counselor & helping other patients like me. I can totally relate to them & I try my best to inspire them from my cancer journey & keep them positive. This is my way of giving back to society & I feel proud of it. I believe having a positive attitude & mind helps in recovering faster especially in cancer. Somehow I feel I am making a difference to society along with Onco-life & saving many lives along the way.