What is radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy is one of the three main treatments for oncology (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy). Radiation destroys cancer cells and inhibits their further growth and division. The therapy is painless, takes place within a few minutes, together with preparation takes 10-20 minutes.
How is radiotherapy done in Korea?
- After reading the results of the examinations and the history of the disease, the professor will report the number of radiotherapy sessions, the dose of radiation and type of therapy.
- Doctors have to determine the location of the tumor, the place of radiation and marking the site . The markings can be done with common ink or tattoo. If necessary, auxiliary frames can be created to secure the position during sessions.
- Medical personnel led by the professor develop the best treatment plan for the patient. This stage usually takes 3 to 5 days; tomotherapy takes 1 week, sometimes more.
- When all preparation is ready, the patient gets their schedule for therapy. Treatment takes place only on weekdays. Additionally, is mandatory once a week a consultation with the attending professor.
- After the treatment, it is important to undergo regular examinations to check the effectiveness of treatment and timely elimination of side effects.
Side-effects and recommendations for radiotherapy
In addition to cancer cells, healthy cells can also be eliminated around the radiation zone. Luckily, healthy cells divide at a lower pace, thus they get the least harm and recover over time. It is necessary to inform the doctor about the outcomes during the weekly consultations.
Side-effects will depend on the location of the exposure. The most common are:
- Itching, darkening, dry skin
The doctor will prescribe ointments, lotions for the skin. It is better not to use other cosmetics without the recommendation from the doctor. It is not a good practice to rub, touch, apply warm and cold objects in the place of radiation.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
The doctor may also prescribe antiemetics and drugs for diarrhea. Avoid food that irritates the stomach mucous. It is recommended to eat foods high in protein in small portions.
Hair loss is possible when the head is exposed (brain tumor), but over time the hair will grow back.
- Fatigue, dry mouth, change of taste buds, etc.
These symptoms are temporary, will pass themselves after the end of treatment. If symptoms are severe, it is necessary to inform the medical staff.
FAQ about radiotherapy in South Korea
After looking at your medical tests’ results and checking your condition, your doctor has to determine the protocol to follow.
Read about the radiotherapy types and devices available at Korean medical institutions: Tomotherapy, Brachytherapy, Cyber Knife, Gamma Knife, Novalis TX, Clinac iX, TrueBeam STX, VitalBeam, others.
The marks help to determine the exact position for the treatment at every session. It is necessary to monitor the marks and try to maintain it until the end of the therapy.
It is NOT possible to move during the radiotherapy session, as the tumor can go out of the beam range and other healthy tissues and organs can get irradiated. Special frames avoid corporal movement. You are also asked to breath evenly. VitalBeam is a new generation platform that monitors respiration and the beam can automatically shut off if the tumor moves out of the target area.
If the kid is small, then each radiotherapy session is carried out under sedation. Medical staff gives the child a syrup (sedative) 20 to 30 minutes before each session.
The cost of radiotherapy varies according to the type of therapy, the does of radiation and other variables. The cost goes from $500 USD to $1,500 USD per session. Proton therapy costs a bit more: From $1,500 USD to $2,500 USD per session.
The type of radiotherapy, the number of sessions, the cost will depend on the diagnosis, the results of examinations, the condition of patients and other factors. Please understand that this information is just for researching purposes and it is not intended as medical advice. Before taking any decision consult with your doctor.