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Treating Mesothelioma with Radiation

Radiation is often used in addition to surgery and/or chemotherapy. Radiation can also be used on its own as a palliative treatment. How it is used depends on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s general health and the patient’s ability to undergo surgery or handle other treatments.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is also sometimes used after surgery to prevent cancer from growing at the site of the incisions. A radiation oncologist – a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer – will supervise the process.

As a palliative measure, radiation can control the spread of the disease after invasive procedures like needle biopsy, thoracoscopy, and chest tube drainage to prevent the disease from spreading at those sites. It can also help treat symptoms like pain and shortness of breath.

There are different types of radiation treatment. Some patients receive both types.

External-Beam Radiation Therapy

This method uses a machine outside the body to focus high-energy rays at the cancer. One form of this is Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) which uses x-rays of different intensities guided by computer generated images to target radiation directly at cancer cells and reduce the amount of radiation to healthy tissue.

Brachytherapy (also called internal radiation)

This process uses radioactive isotopes, usually sealed in seeds and placed directly into the pleural cavity near the tumor. This can also be used to help treat recurring pleural effusion (fluid buildup).

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