Can Cancer Be Treated Without Radiation Therapy?

By VictoriaN
I am a student of journalism. I am interested in iformation technologies especially in ones in the sphere of education. I always observe new tools helping to study and want everybody to know about them.
September 4, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Can Cancer Be Treated Without Radiation Therapy?


Radiation therapy makes use of very high energy rays which destroy cancer cells. The goal of radiation therapy is to eradicate as many cancer cells as possible. Radiation is painless and invisible and it destroys cancer cells to stall the growth of tumors. It can help shrink large tumors that may be putting pressure on internal organs thereby bringing relief from pain and discomfort.


Radiation therapy- when do you need it?

Once someone is diagnosed with cancer, radiation is generally recommended as an important part of active treatment by most cancer experts in Chicago. Radiation may be used before surgery to shrink tumors, or after surgery to destroy all remaining cancerous cells. Radiation can also be a part of palliative care if the tumor cannot be operated upon.


Side effects of radiation therapy

A radiation oncologist and the rest of your cancer care team will help you understand the therapy and be prepared for the outcome as well as side effects. There are chances that you may have concerns about opting for radiation therapy because of possible side effects.

The biggest concern with radiation therapy is that in few cases, radiation itself is the factor that increases your risk of developing another cancer. Though the benefit of treating the current cancer outweighs the risk of getting another cancer in future, it could still make people think twice before deciding to get radiation therapy.

Another risk with radiation therapy is that it can cause some changes in the surrounding organs, depending upon the location and dose of radiation. For example, when a person receives radiation for prostate cancer, the urinary bladder can also get affected because of its proximity to prostate. This could cause bladder problems. When the pelvic area receives radiation, it could also lead to infertility.

Essentially, the job of radiation therapy is to damage cell DNA. Though the target is of this therapy is cancerous cells, healthy cells surrounding the tumor cannot remain unaffected by radiation.


Recent developments

Recently, a group of researchers under Wyndham Wilson and Kieron Dunleavy, both from NCI, carried out a new study which eliminates the need of radiation therapy while treating Primary Mediastinal B-cell Lymphoma, which is a rare type of cancer.

This is a subtype of lymphoma which is more prevalent in young adults and teenagers. Because of the very young age of the patients, the consequences of exposure to radiation for the purpose of treatment are far-reaching and cause concern. The radiation is generally given to the chest area, which damages the heart as well as creates the risk of new cancers developing after some years. Moreover, this cancer is more common in women and radiation to the chest area gives rise to risk of breast cancer in the future.

Recently, researchers have utilized more target-oriented therapies to get better results as well as do away with the need of radiation from the course of treatment. The researchers carried out a chemotherapy schedule called DA-EPOCH-R or Dose-Adjusted EPOCH-R for 51 patients and continued follow-ups for more than 10 years. The dosages of the drugs were adjusted according to the manner in which individuals responded to the therapy.

The New England Journal of Medicine carried the results of this study recently. The clinicians observed that 93% patients had no recurrence of cancer for five years after the treatment. The strategy behind the dosage manipulation was to alter the amount of drug in proportion to the white blood cells circulating. The second phase of this study for pediatric cancer is presently ongoing to determine the efficacy of this therapy.


Presently, the results from this study have been quite encouraging and there is now reason to believe that it may be possible to treat cancer more effectively without making use of radiation in the near future.

Research is an important aspect for finding ways to combat cancer. Many events that are conducted in places like Chicago and Mackinaw in Illinois by Lungevity to fund research and help find better cure.

I am a student of journalism. I am interested in iformation technologies especially in ones in the sphere of education. I always observe new tools helping to study and want everybody to know about them.