Sometimes stomach cancer radiotherapy treatment is administered to you. This form of therapy involves beaming of high energy-ray beams or radiation from a special machine that delivers accurately placed therapy to the tumor.
The main type is palliative radiotherapy. This is provided when your tumor cannot be cured, but rather to help improve symptoms that you may have.
It is particularly helpful when the tumor has spread to the bone as it can help reduce pain significantly.
This form of therapy is often administered in conjunction with other treatments for your symptoms.
It is sometimes used as combined or adjuvant treatment after your surgery. In this situation, it can either be considered alone or in combination with chemotherapy when it is referred to as chemoradiotherapy.
This combined way of dealing with your malignancy can be very toxic to you, although it might provide a way of curing your tumor.
Curative therapy like this is usually experimental and you are likely to be enrolled in to a clinical trial for this.
You will be invited along to the stomach cancer radiotherapy centre where you will embark on a course of treatment. This may be administered over several days or given as a course up to 8 weeks.
Prior to administration, you will be carefully assessed so the tumor is given the maximum dose possible.
Tattoo’s will be placed so the therapist can accurately provide the x-ray beam in an attempt to minimize damage to surrounding normal tissues.
These tattoo’s or markers will help guide further radiation dosing in the coming days or weeks.
Whilst every effort is made in trying to prevent damage to normal tissues, it is not possible for these high energy beams to only affect the tumor.
Most side effects for this form of treatment are mild and may be non-specific.
Tiredness is a very common symptom, not only from the radiation itself, but also from the travelling that is often required toing and froing from home to the centre and back.
You may experience some nausea symptoms as well as diarrhea, although these symptoms can usually be settled with medications.
Minor burns can occur or localized skin reactions to the beams administered. You may need some creams for this.
Hair loss can also ensue, particularly near to where the x-ray beam is placed.
In, summary this form of treatment can be very effective in the management of your symptoms as well as a potential adjuvant therapy post-surgery.
Whilst stomach cancer radiotherapy is a useful treatment in relieving symptoms by shrinking your tumor and preventing growth, it is not usually used as a cure.
It can be used to 'mop up' cancer cells and be used in controlled trials to aid management of your disease.