Chemo vs Radiation

Chemo vs Radiation

Cancer can be a very rough and troubling time in anyone’s life. The treatments that are involved in the treatment of cancer can be very costly, and also have some serious side effects. Chemotherapy and Radiation are the two forms of treatment that are available for cancer patients. Each are extremely different, but both are highly effective and necessary.

Key Information About Chemo

1. Basics
Chemotherapy technically means the use of any drug to treat a disease. Most people just refer to chemotherapy as treatment for cancer, which is what we will be talking about in this article. Chemotherapy, often shortened to chemo, is the use of one or a combination of multiple drugs in order to combat cancer. The type of chemo drugs that are used depend fully on the type of cancer being fought.

2. Types
There are hundreds of chemo drugs that are regularly administered to cancer patients. The types of drugs all do different things and treat different, specific cancers. They can be lumped into several smaller groups based on what they do, their chemical structure, and their relationships with other drugs.
Alkylating
Alkylating drugs cause direct damage to DNA in order to prevent cancer cells from reproducing. Nitrogen mustards, triazines, and ethylenimines are all examples of these.

Anthracyclines
These are anti-tumor antibiotics that cause disruption to the enzymes that are responsible for DNA replication. They work in all parts of the cell cycle. These are considered dangerous because they can cause damage to the heart.

Mitotic Inhibitors
These inhibitors are derived from natural products like plants. They work to stop enzymes from creating the protein that cells need in order to reproduce.

Corticosteroids
While these drugs are not always used for cancer treatment, when they are they are considered chemotherapy. They work to prevent the vomiting and nausea that often come with the use chemo therapy.

3. How?
The administration of chemotherapy drugs can happen in multiple ways and like most other parts of chemo, depend on the type of cancer being treated. Injections in the muscles, intravenous (IV), oral, and intraperitoneal are some of the most common.

4. Side Effects
One of the biggest things people think of when they think about chemotherapy is the side effects that are endured. These side effects are caused because along with killing cancer cells, healthy cells are also killed in the process. The specific effects that are experienced are different with each drug. The most common are diarrhea, memory changes, general pain, loss of hair, constipation, anemia, nausea and vomiting, and swelling.

Things To Know About Radiation

1. Overview
Radiation therapy is a treatment for tumors and cancer. It uses high energy and concentration of radiation in order to shrink tumors or kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Nearly half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy during their treatment.

2. How?
If your doctor has decided that radiation will be an effective treatment for your specific form of cancer than a CT scan will be performed in order to begin mapping out the exact position and locations that the radiation will be administered. The oncologist will treat the tumor as well as a small portion of healthy cells around, this is done to ensure that the tumor has been hit.

3. Types
There are various different types of radiation therapy that can be used. The type depends on the area of the location being treated and the size of the tumor(s).
External Beam Radiation
This form of radiation is delivered using a linear accelerator. It forms a stream of subatomic particles using electricity. These particles create the radiation that is used to treat the cancer.
Internal Radiation
This form of radiation is given by placing radioactive materials in or on the body. This is used when the tumors that are being treated are located inside a chest cavity, or an area of the body that cannot be reached without significant damage to other parts of the body.
Systemic Radiation
Systemic radiation therapy is when the patient swallows or is injected with a radioactive substance. The substance then travels through the blood and kills cancer cells.

4. Side Effects
There are some general side effects to radiation therapy but the majority of serious ones are site specific. This means that the area being treated will most likely experience the most effects. Some of the common ones are:
Skin Problems (drying, blistering, itchiness)
Fatigue
Risk of Other Cancers

Differences Between Chemotherapy and Radiation

1.Type of Treatment
Chemo and radiation therapies are very different in the way they treat the cancer. With chemo, a cocktail of drugs are administered in order to kill cancer cells. Radiation uses high doses of targeted radiation in order to destroy cancer cells.

2. Side Effects
Chemotherapy drugs have a large number of rather severe side effects. These can be debilitating and life altering. Radiation however, only has a few side effects and most do not effect the entire body.

3. Cost
The costs of these therapies are very hefty. A “round” of chemo therapy, which is usually 3 to 4 months, can run a whopping 25,000 dollars. This amount varies with the type of cancer being treated and the drugs being used. Radiation costs between 1500 and 4000 dollars depending on the form of treatment and the technology used.

4. Both Used
While each are extremely different, they are both the most effective form of treatment for life threatening cancers. Success in remission is nearly impossible with the use of one or both of these treatments.