Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy for melanoma is recommended in the following situations:
- In the adjuvant treatment of lymph nodes after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence or relapse treatment available.
- As a palliative therapy to relieve pain and control the symptoms of the disease.
Irradiation is usually given as a series of short sessions, Monday through Friday, with a break weekend. Each procedure takes about 10-15 minutes. The treatment program is determined by taking into account the individual characteristics of each patient.
External beam therapy of melanoma
In this disease is usually prescribed external radiotherapy. Linear accelerators direct radiation to the tumor and some surrounding tissue.
After surgery to remove lymph nodes of patients with high risk of recurrence are high doses of irradiation. Indications are:
- The spread of cancer outside the lymph nodes.
- The presence of residual signs of disease in the lymph nodes.
- The involvement of the lymph nodes, where, most likely, not be able to complete resection.
- Enlarged lymph nodes greater than 3 cm in diameter after previously performed operation to remove a tumor.
- 3 or more positive lymph nodes (where diagnosed with cancer).
For therapy of melanoma Radiation is the prescribed to relieve pain and treat basis of the symptoms of the disease, the which has spread to:
- Outlying portions of the skin or lymph nodes - irradiation reduces tumor size and lymph node and reduces pain.
- Bones - reduces pain and strengthens the bone tissue.
- Brain - reduces the size of metastasis and suppresses symptoms of the disease.
- Light - it helps to cope with shortness of breath.
Side effects of radiation therapy for melanoma
Side effects can occur with any method of treating melanoma, but not in every patient, and have varying degrees of symptoms. The negative effects of radiation therapy for melanoma depends mainly on: the size of a specific area of treatment, total dose, schedule of therapy.
Irradiation damages the malignant cells, but at the same time in the treatment zone and get healthy, even if measures are taken to maximize their protection. Various cells and tissues in the body carry radiation differently.
Adverse effects of treatment can occur at any time directly in the course of therapy, immediately after its completion, or after a few days or weeks. The most recent indications are noted in a few months, or even years. Most of them are held after the end of irradiation. Some of the negative effects continue for a long period of time or in some cases become permanent.
Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of radiation therapy for melanoma. The reason may be anemia, poor appetite, depression, accumulation of toxic substances in the body due to the destruction of malignant cells. During irradiation, the body uses more energy for self-healing, so of fatigue is not always possible to get rid of using the rest.
Radiation therapy directed at any part of the body, will be accompanied by the data side effect, but more pronounced it becomes the irradiation of large areas of the body. If the treatment involves areas where blood cells are formed, for example, the pelvis, more likely to develop anemia.
May appear redness and pain of the skin during radiation therapy for melanoma. Common skin reactions include:
- dry or peeling;
- weeping skin;
Most manifestations of data occurs within the first 2 weeks after irradiation. And usually disappear after a few weeks of treatment completion, but some of them may become permanent. In some patients, there are no negative effects from the skin.
After treatment the skin may be delayed crust, beneath which will be healthy skin, and this area is subsequently acquire sensitivity to UV rays.
Sometimes these problems occur after radiation therapy for melanoma and become chronic. Skin that was processed to become thinner, the following changes occur.
- And darker brown shade, as the cells that produce the pigment are exposed.
- The red color is due to the expansion of small blood vessels.
- The skin becomes more dense, smooth and shiny.
Hair loss (alopecia) occurs only in the area, which had the effect of irradiation. The extent of hair loss and the process of recovery depend on the characteristics of each person and the radiation dose.
This negative manifestation can begin about 2-3 weeks after the start of radiation therapy for melanoma. Lower doses of radiation tends to cause a temporary loss, higher increase side effect. After 3-6 months after completion of therapy hair are restored, they may become thinner and have a non-uniform coloration, there are likely to change the color or texture.