> How often is radiotherapy used?
First of all, it is necessary to remember that radiotherapy and chemotherapy are two very different things. Radiotherapy is used in the case of localized cancer. Its effects will be (partially) limited to the treated area. This therapy consists of directing radiation on diseased cells in order to destroy them. Radiation therapy is often used as a complement to other therapies (chemotherapy and surgery). In particular, in fact, it completes the work done in the operating room, to destroy the tumor residues after the "removal of the tumor. Radiotherapy is prescribed to treat" radiosensitive "tumors, that is the forms of cancer vulnerable to radiation..
> What does it consist of?
There are two types of radiation therapy: external and internal. If it is internal, the radiation is sent from a source inside the tumor. The treatment dose used to cure cancer naturally differs from one case to another. Generally, external radiation therapy sessions take place once a day, in the hospital. The radiation therapy must be performed for several weeks. In some cases, the sessions can be short and fragmented over time, which allows to reduce the disturbances related to side effects. Generally, the sessions last only a few minutes and are developed in various stages. The first is centering: the doctor draws signs in order to precisely delimit the area to be irradiated. After that, the radiation dosage is defined. Only then does the irradiation begin, during which the patient must remain motionless. The radiotherapy itself is not painful.
> How does it work?
The radiation emitted during radiotherapy weakens the cancer cells and causes their death. Radiotherapy doses are measured in Gray (Gy). For breast cancer, typically between 45 and 50 Gy are used. Although the radiation is focused directly on the tumor (and the latest equipment allows targeting of diseased cells more and more precisely), it often also touches healthy tissues that are nearby. The side effects, therefore, can concern the treated area and the adjacent ones.
> What are the side effects?