Business feature: Radiation therapy explained

Expertise: Dr Anne Capp is a radiation oncologist at Genesis Care in Newcastle, where a personal approach is taken to treat patients with cancer.

Expertise: Dr Anne Capp is a radiation oncologist at Genesis Care in Newcastle, where a personal approach is taken to treat patients with cancer.

Termed as the silent hero, radiation therapy is an often misunderstood treatment used to treat cancer patients. 40 per cent of all patients cured of cancer will have received radiation therapy as a part of their treatment plan and 16 per cent of all cures can be attributed entirely to radiotherapy. It’s been in existence for nearly 100 years, with significant advances made via research and technology in the last 20 years.

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy as it is often known, uses high energy x-rays produced by a machine called a linear accelerator to target and kill cancer cells,  avoiding healthy tissue.

“Cancer cells are more vulnerable to radiation than normal cells and we exploit this by delivering targeted beams directly at the site of the cancer,” explains Dr Anne Capp, a Radiation Oncologist at Genesis Care Newcastle.

Radiation therapy may be used as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. Around half of all cancer patients receive some form of radiotherapy as part of their overall treatment plan.

Like cancer treatments radiotherapy has some side effects, however the advances in treatment technology means some side effects have been reduced and with better understanding can be well managed. Side effects occur only at the site of treatment and may vary from patient to patient but will be discussed with the Radiation Oncologist, along with the expected length of treatment.

“Radiation therapy is often delivered in more than one treatment, termed as fractions with the average treatment around 15 minutes,

“The number of fractions a patient receives is confirmed by their consultant Radiation Oncologist. A specialised form of treatment called stereotactic radiotherapy may only require 1 to 5 fractions whereas other treatments may require 20-30, most commonly delivered daily,” 

The radiation oncologist and commonly a multi-disciplinary team, will consider the role of radiation therapy for each patient and determine the best approach. This way the radiation therapy forms part of comprehensive cancer care plan.

“We aim to care for the patient not just treat the disease,  this is achieved through partnership and innovation to continue to deliver better care.”

Approximately 50 per cent of all patients with cancer will require radiation therapy as part of their overall care. Personalised care provides patients with the best chance of cure or symptom control including radiation therapy.

Genesis Care offer immediate access to radiation therapy for all patients and provide the latest technology, tailored to each individual, as well as access to world leading clinical trials and research.  All patients require a referral from a GP or specialist. For more information visit: targetingcancer.com.au or genesiscare.com