How Long Does Radiation Stay in an Area?

Radiation therapy is a safe and effective way to treat cancer and other diseases. It has been used for more than 100 years, and advances in technology have led to safety regulations and checkpoints during treatment. Radiation therapy involves exposure to dangerous radioactive particles, but it is carefully monitored to minimize side effects. The effects of radiation can spread to nearby cells, but most recover within a few weeks.

In some cases, radiation can cause skin burns or acute radiation syndrome (ARS), which can cause symptoms such as headache and diarrhea. ARS can cause death in the following days or weeks, depending on the amount of radiation received. External-beam radiation therapy is usually done with a linear accelerator, a machine that directs beams of high-energy radiation into the body. This type of radiation therapy is usually given five days a week for several weeks, allowing healthy cells time to recover each day.

Brachytherapy and stereotactic radiation therapy are other forms of radiation therapy that allow for higher doses of radiation in less time. A team of medical professionals, led by a radiation oncologist, administers radiation therapy. Radiation oncologists have completed at least four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of training in general medicine, and four years of residency (specialty) in radiation oncology. The goal of radiation therapy is to kill as few healthy and normal cells as possible while destroying cancer cells.

Radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery to reduce the size of the cancer or destroy any remaining cancer cells. A family doctor, surgeon, or medical oncologist may refer patients to a radiation oncologist for treatment. The radiation oncologist will review medical tests and discuss potential benefits and risks with the patient before beginning treatment. Radiation usually doesn't travel much beyond the area being treated, so there's little chance of exposing others to radiation.

However, some people may experience long-term side effects from radiation therapy, such as heart damage or fibrosis. To minimize these risks, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully and take any preventive measures recommended by your doctor or dentist before beginning treatment.

Isaac Delpozo
Isaac Delpozo

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