There are always questions about cancer and radiation exposure from medical imaging. Most patients want to know whether radiation from CT scans, mammograms, or bone density tests can increase the risks of getting cancer.
For many women, there is little risk from X-ray imaging, like dental ex-rays or mammography. But most experts are concerned about an explosion in the use of dose tests like nuclear imaging and CT.
Radiation of a certain wavelength, often referred to as ionizing radiation, has the energy that can damage your DNA and even cause cancer. It includes x-rays, radon, and gamma rays. But non-ionizing and lower-energy forms of radiation, like the energy from your cell phone and visible light, don’t cause cancer.
Individuals exposed to too much radiation can have more risks of getting cancer. And cancer that radiation causes is not that different from cancer that smoking and other risk factors cause.
Radiation Exposure and Cancer: What is the Connection?
According to experts at UEW Healthcare, the connection between cancer and radiation exposure is based on people being exposed to higher levels of ionizing radiation.
Cancer associated with high radiation exposure includes bladder, stomach, multiple myeloma, esophagus, lung, liver, colon, and breast cancers.
Plus, cancers, which develop due to high doses of radiation, are indistinguishable from those that happen naturally or occur because of chemical carcinogens.
Radiation Therapy in Treating Cancer
Radiotherapy, also called radiation therapy, is a treatment used to treat cancer. It uses high doses of radiation to shrink tumors and kill cells causing cancer.
At a low dose, the medical expert uses radiation in X-ray to see inside a patient’s body, like how it is done with X-rays for broken bones and teeth.
Types of Radiotherapy
In general, there are two types of radiotherapy. These include internal and external beams. Internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy, is offered from a localized implant. The procedure includes hollow needles or hollow tubes put around the tumor or inside a patient’s body.
On the other hand, external radiation therapy is administered by a team of experts, including radiation therapists, medical cancer specialists, and specially trained health professionals.
However, the kind of radiotherapy you will have depends on certain factors. Some of these factors may include the following:
- Your medical history and general health
- The location of the tumor in the body
- Size of a tumor
- Type of cancer
- Your age
How Radiotherapy Treats Patients with Cancer
A medical expert can use radiotherapy for different reasons or at different times during treatment. Your healthcare expert and their team can suggest radiation as the primary treatment for your cancer.
Your expert can also suggest radiation before surgery to shrink cancer, stop the growth of cancer cells, relieve symptoms, or combine it with other treatments, like chemotherapy.
Using radiation to treat cancer dates back to the early 20th century when medical experts realized that rays that emanate from radioactive metal radium have the power to kill cells causing cancer. Today, more than a quarter of patients with cancer globally consider radiation therapy as part of treatment.