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Panax ginseng

Botanical Name : Panax ginseng
Family: Araliaceae
Subfamily: Aralioideae
Tribe: Aralieae
Genus: Panax
Species: Panax ginseng
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms : Aralia ginseng. Panax chin-seng. Panax verus.

Common Name : Ginseng, Chinese ginseng

Habitat : Panax ginseng is native to E. Asia – China, Korea.(Manchuria, Chinese Tartary and other parts of eastern Asia, and is largely cultivated there as well as in Korea and Japan.) It grows on mountain forests.
Description:
Panax ginseng is a smooth perennial herb, with a large, fleshy, very slow-growing root, 2 to 3 inches in length (occasionally twice this size) and from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. Its main portion is spindle-shaped and heavily annulated (ringed growth), with a roundish summit, often with a slight terminal, projecting point. At the lower end of this straight portion, there is a narrower continuation, turned obliquely outward in the opposite direction and a very small branch is occasionally borne in the fork between the two. Some small rootlets exist upon the lower portion. The color ranges from a pale yellow to a brownish color. It has a mucilaginous sweetness, approaching that of liquorice, accompanied with some degree of bitterness and a slight aromatic warmth, with little or no smell. The stem is simple and erect, about a foot high, bearing three leaves, each divided into five finely-toothed leaflets, and a single, terminal umbel, with a few small, yellowish flowers. It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) The fruit is a cluster of bright red berries.

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Cultivation:
Requires a moist humus rich soil in a shady position in a woodland. Ginseng is widely cultivated and also collected from the wild in the Orient for its root which is commonly used as a medicine. The root is prepared in a number of different ways, including by steaming it for 4 hours in wicker baskets over boiling water.

Propagation :
Seed – sow in a shady position in a cold frame preferably as soon as it is ripe, otherwise as soon as the seed is obtained. It can be very slow and erratic to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a shady positi
Edible Uses: ...Root – chewed. This probably refers to its medicinal uses. A tea is made from the root.

Medicinal Uses:
Ginseng was considered for generations to be a panacea by the Chinese and Koreans, although there are some disorders, such as acute inflammatory diseases, for which it is not recommended. It usually is not taken alone, but combined in formulas with other herbs. One of ginseng’s key investigators, Russian I.I. Brekhman, coined the term “adaptogen” to describe ginseng’s ability to regulate many different functions. It can have different responses, depending on what an individual needs. Studies show that ginseng increases mental and physical efficiency and resistance to stress and disease. Psychological improvements were also observed according to Rorschach. Studies done at the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing, China, showed that the ginsenosides increase protein synthesis and activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. They are also probably responsible for ginseng’s dual role of sedating or stimulating the central nervous system, depending on the condition it is being taken to treat. Studies also show that ginseng improves carbohydrate tolerance in diabetics. When volunteers were given 3 grams of ginseng along with alcohol, their blood alcohol level was 32% to 51% lower than that of the control group.

Ginseng appears to stimulate the immune system of both animals and humans. It revs up the white blood cells (macrophages and natural killer cells) that devour disease-causing microorganisms. Ginseng also spurs production of interferon, the body’s own virus-fighting chemical, and antibodies, which fight bacterial and viral infections. It reduces cholesterol, according to several American studies. It also increases good cholesterol. Ginseng has an anticlotting effect, which reduces the risk of blood clots. It reduces blood sugar levels. Ginseng protects the liver from the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, and other toxic substances. In a pilot human study, ginseng improved liver function in 24 elderly people suffering from cirrhosis. Ginseng can minimize cell damage from radiation. In two studies, experimental animals were injected with various protective agents, then subjected to doses of radiation similar to those used in cancer radiation therapy. Ginseng provided the best protection against damage to healthy cells, suggesting value during cancer radiation therapy.

Asians have always considered ginseng particularly beneficial for the elderly. As people age, the senses of taste and smell deteriorate, which reduces appetite. In addition, the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients declines. Ginseng enjoys a reputation as an appetite stimulant and one study showed it increases the ability of the intestine to absorb nutrients, thus helping prevent undernourishment. This is a yin tonic, taken in China for fevers and for exhaustion due to a chronic, wasting disease such as tuberculosis. It can help coughs related to lung weaknessIn the 1960s, a Japanese scientist, Shoji Shibata, at the Meiji College of Pharmacy in Tokyo, identified a unique set of chemicals that are largely responsible for ginseng’s actions. They are saponins, biologically active compounds that foam in water. Ginseng’s unique saponins were dubbed “ginsenosides.”

Research reveals that ginseng can have beneficial effects on metabolic function, immunity, mood, and physiological function at the most basic cellular level. It does not benefit everyone; recent studies of elite athletes reveal that it has no demonstrable effects on athletic performance. Yet in older people, studies show that it reduces fatigue, improves performance, and boosts mood. This makes sense in classic terms because why would world-class athletes, with superior yang energy, want to take a root for people with “devastated ” yang? But if you are recovering from a drawn-out illness, feeling fatigued, or feeling the effects of age’ if you are experiencing a “collapse” of your “chi”, ginseng may be right for you.

As an adaptogenic, ginseng’s action varies. In China, ginseng is best known as a stimulant, tonic herb for athletes and those subject to physical stress, and as a male aphrodisiac. It is also a tonic for old age, and is traditionally taken by people in northern and central China fro late middle age onward, helping them to endure the long hard winters.

Ginseng has been researched in detail over the past 20-30 years in China, Japan, Korea, Russian, and many other countries. Its remarkable “adaptogenic” quality has been confirmed. Trials show that ginseng significantly improves the body’s capacity to cope with hunger, extremes of temperature, and mental and emotional stress. Furthermore, ginseng produces a sedative effect when the body requires sleep. The ginsenosides that are responsible for this action are similar in structure to the body’s own stress hormones. Ginseng also increases immune function and resistance to infection, and supports liver function.

In Asian countries, ginseng has long been recognized as effective n reducing alcohol intoxication and also as a remedy for hangovers. A clinical experiment demonstrated that ginseng significantly enhanced blood alcohol clearance in humans. In regards to cancer, a number of experiments have shown that ginseng can help restore physiological balance within the system and significantly reduce the side effects when used along with anticancer drugs. For diabetes, when patients are treated with ginseng at the early stages, conditions can return to normal. In advanced stages, the blood glucose level is significantly lowered. When combined with insulin, insulin requirements are reduced while still effectively lowering blood glucose level. Other symptoms such as fatigue and decreased sexual desire are also alleviated.

There is some evidence that ginseng, taken in small amounts over a long period of time, improves regulation of the adrenals so that stress hormones are produced rapidly when needed and broken down rapidly when not needed. Whole root is best. Extracts, even those that contain specific guaranteed-potency ginsenosides, don’t have some of the other compounds in ginseng that may be beneficial. Its not recommended to take even good quality extracts for more than 2-3 weeks at a time, but the whole ginseng root, in small amounts can be taken every day for a year or more.

At the Institute of Immunological Science at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, researchers have been studying a ginsenoside, Rb2. In mice given lung tumors,’ oral administration of ginsenoside Rb2 caused a marked inhibition of both neovascularization and tumor growth,’ they write. Neovascularization, also called angiogenesis, is the tendency of tumors to create tiny blood vessels that feed their malignant growth.

A case-control study in Korea compared about 2,000 patients admitted tot eh Korea Cancer Center Hospital in Seoul to another 2,000 noncancer patients. Those with cancer were about half as likely to use ginseng as those without cancer. Cancer risk was lower with those who took ginseng for a year but much lower for those who took ginseng for up to 20 years. Fresh ginseng, white ginseng extract, white ginseng powder, and red ginseng were all associated with reduced cancer risk.

Known Hazards : Side effects include inability to fall asleep, increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Overuse or prolonged use may cause over stimulation (diarrhoea, nervousness, skin eruption). Caution with other stimulants needed. Avoid in patients with psychosis and manic disorders. Not recommended during pregnancy and breast feeding

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panax_ginseng
http://www.hardingsginsengfarm.com/botgin.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Panax+ginseng

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Prostate cancer

Other Name : Carcinoma of the man’s prostate,adenocarcinoma, or glandular cancer

Definition:
Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in a man’s prostate— a small walnut-shaped gland that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm for  male reproductive system.

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Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow relatively fast.Initially remains confined to the prostate gland,  where it may not cause serious harm. While some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.

Prostate cancer that is detected early — when it’s still confined to the prostate gland — has a better chance of successful treatment.

Factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer include: older age, a family history of the disease, and race. About 99% of cases occur in those over the age of 50. Having a first degree relative with  the disease increases the risk 2 to 3 fold. In the United States it is more common in the African American population than the Caucasian population. Other factors that may be involved include a diet  high in processed, red meat, or milk products or low in certain vegetables. Prostate cancer is diagnosed by biopsy. Medical imaging may then be done to determine if the cancer has spread to other  parts of the body.

Symptoms:
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. Sometimes, however, prostate cancer does cause symptoms, often similar to those of diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia. These include frequent urination, nocturia (increased urination at night), difficulty starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine, hematuria (blood in the urine), and dysuria (painful urination). A study  based on the 1998 Patient Care Evaluation in the US found that about a third of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer had one or more such symptoms, while two thirds had no symptoms.

Prostate cancer is associated with urinary dysfunction as the prostate gland surrounds the prostatic urethra. Changes within the gland, therefore, directly affect urinary function. Because the vas  deferens deposits seminal fluid into the prostatic urethra, and secretions from the prostate gland itself are included in semen content, prostate cancer may also cause problems with sexual function  and performance, such as difficulty achieving erection or painful ejaculation.

Advanced prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body, possibly causing additional symptoms. The most common symptom is bone pain, often in the vertebrae (bones of the spine), pelvis,  or ribs. Spread of cancer into other bones such as the femur is usually to the proximal part of the bone. Prostate cancer in the spine can also compress the spinal cord, causing leg weakness and  urinary and fecal incontinence.

Causes:
The  causes of prostate cancer  is still not very clear.
Doctors know that prostate cancer begins when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. Mutations in the abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells  do. The abnormal cells continue living, when other cells would die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. Some abnormal cells can break off and  spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Risk Factors:
The primary risk factors are obesity, age and family history. Prostate cancer is very uncommon in men younger than 45, but becomes more common with advancing age. The average age at the time  of diagnosis is 70. However, many men never know they have prostate cancer. Autopsy studies of Chinese, German, Israeli, Jamaican, Swedish, and Ugandan men who died of other causes have  found prostate cancer in 30% of men in their 50s, and in 80% of men in their 70s. Men who have first-degree family members with prostate cancer appear to have double the risk of getting the  disease compared to men without prostate cancer in the family. This risk appears to be greater for men with an affected brother than for men with an affected father.   Men with high blood pressure are more likely to develop prostate cancer.  There is a small increased risk of prostate cancer associated with lack of exercise. A 2010 study found that prostate basal cells were the most common  site of origin for prostate cancers.

Genetic factors :
Genetic background may contribute to prostate cancer risk, as suggested by associations with race, family, and specific gene variants. Men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer have twice the risk of developing prostate cancer, and those with two first-degree relatives affected have a fivefold greater risk compared with men with no family history. In the

United States, prostate cancer more commonly affects black men than white or Hispanic men, and is also more deadly in black men. In contrast, the incidence and mortality rates for Hispanic men  are one third lower than for non-Hispanic whites. Studies of twins in Scandinavia suggest that 40% of prostate cancer risk can be explained by inherited factors.

No single gene is responsible for prostate cancer; many different genes have been implicated. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, important risk factors for ovarian cancer and breast cancer in women, have also been implicated in prostate cancer. Other linked genes include the Hereditary Prostate cancer gene 1 (HPC1), the androgen receptor, and the vitamin D receptor.  TMPRSS2-ETS gene  family fusion, specifically TMPRSS2-ERG or TMPRSS2-ETV1/4 promotes cancer cell growth.

Two large genome-wide association studies linking single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to prostate cancer were published in 2008. These studies identified several SNPs which substantially  affect the risk of prostate cancer. For example, individuals with TT allele pair at SNP rs10993994 were reported to be at 1.6 times higher risk of prostate cancer than those with the CC allele pair. This

SNP explains part of the increased prostate cancer risk of African American men as compared to American men of European descent, since the C allele is much more prevalent in the latter; this SNP is located in the promoter region of the MSMB gene, thus affects the amount of MSMB protein synthesized and secreted by epithelial cells of the prostate.

Dietary factors:
While some dietary factors have been associated with prostate cancer the evidence is still tentative.  Evidence supports little role for dietary fruits and vegetables in prostate cancer occurrence. Red  meat and processed meat also appear to have little effect in human studies.  Higher meat consumption has been associated with a higher risk in some studies.

Lower blood levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Folic acid supplements have no effect on the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Viral factors:
In 2006, a previously unknown retrovirus, Xenotropic MuLV-related virus or XMRV, was associated with human prostate tumors,  but subsequent reports on the virus were contradictory,  and the original 2006 finding was instead due to a previously undetected contamination.

Sexual factors:
Several case-control studies have shown that having many lifetime sexual partners or starting sexual activity early in life substantially increases the risk of prostate cancer. This correlation suggests  a sexually transmissible infection (STI) may cause some prostate cancer cases; however, many studies have unsuccessfully attempted to find such a link, especially when testing for STIs shortly  before or after prostate cancer diagnosis.  Studies testing for STIs a decade or more prior to prostate cancer diagnosis find a significant link between prostate cancer and various STIs (HPV-16, HPV-18 and HSV-2). This evidence could be explained by a yet-to-be-identified sexually transmissible infection and a long latency period between onset of infection and prostate cancer.

On the other hand, while the available evidence is weak,  tentative results suggest that frequent ejaculation may decrease the risk of prostate cancer.  A study, over eight years, showed that those  that ejaculated most frequently (over 21 times per month on average) were less likely to get prostate cancer.  The results were broadly similar to the findings of a smaller Australian study

Medication exposure:
There are also some links between prostate cancer and medications, medical procedures, and medical conditions. Use of the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as the statins may also decrease  prostate cancer risk.

Infection or inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) may increase the chance for prostate cancer while another study shows infection may help prevent prostate cancer by increasing blood to the  area. In particular, infection with the sexually transmitted infections chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis seems to increase risk. Finally, obesity  and elevated blood levels of testosterone   may increase the risk for prostate cancer. There is an association between vasectomy and prostate cancer however more research is needed to determine if this is a causative relationship.

Pathophysiology:
The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system that helps make and store seminal fluid. In adult men, a typical prostate is about 3 centimeters long and weighs about 20 grams. It is located in the pelvis, under the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder during urination and semen during ejaculation.  Because of its location, prostate diseases often affect urination, ejaculation, and rarely defecation. The prostate contains many small glands which make about 20 percent of the fluid  constituting semen.  In prostate cancer, the cells of these prostate glands mutate into cancer cells. The prostate glands require male hormones, known as androgens, to work properly. Androgens  include testosterone, which is made in the testes; dehydroepiandrosterone, made in the adrenal glands; and dihydrotestosterone, which is converted from testosterone within the prostate itself.

Androgens are also responsible for secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair and increased muscle mass.

Prostate cancer is classified as an adenocarcinoma, or glandular cancer, that begins when normal semen-secreting prostate gland cells mutate into cancer cells. The region of prostate gland where  the adenocarcinoma is most common is the peripheral zone. Initially, small clumps of cancer cells remain confined to otherwise normal prostate glands, a condition known as carcinoma in situ or  prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). Although there is no proof that PIN is a cancer precursor, it is closely associated with cancer. Over time, these cancer cells begin to multiply and spread to the  surrounding prostate tissue (the stroma) forming a tumor. Eventually, the tumor may grow large enough to invade nearby organs such as the seminal vesicles or the rectum, or the tumor cells may develop the ability to travel in the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Prostate cancer is considered a malignant tumor because it is a mass of cells that can invade other parts of the body. This invasion of other organs is called metastasis. Prostate cancer most commonly metastasizes to the bones, lymph nodes, and may invade rectum, bladder and lower ureters after local progression.

The route of metastasis to bone is thought to be venous as the prostatic venous plexus draining the prostate connects with the vertebral veins.

The prostate is a zinc-accumulating, citrate-producing organ. The protein ZIP1 is responsible for the active transport of zinc into prostate cells. One of zinc’s important roles is to change the metabolism of the cell in order to produce citrate, an important component of semen. The process of zinc accumulation, alteration of metabolism, and citrate production is energy inefficient, and  prostate cells sacrifice enormous amounts of energy (ATP) in order to accomplish this task. Prostate cancer cells are generally devoid of zinc. This allows prostate cancer cells to save energy not  making citrate, and utilize the new abundance of energy to grow and spread. The absence of zinc is thought to occur via a silencing of the gene that produces the transporter protein ZIP1. ZIP1 is now called a tumor suppressor gene product for the gene SLC39A1. The cause of the epigenetic silencing is unknown. Strategies which transport zinc into transformed prostate cells effectively  eliminate these cells in animals. Zinc inhibits NF-?B pathways, is anti-proliferative, and induces apoptosis in abnormal cells. Unfortunately, oral ingestion of zinc is ineffective since high  concentrations of zinc into prostate cells is not possible without the active transporter, ZIP1.

Loss of cancer suppressor genes, early in the prostatic carcinogenesis, have been localized to chromosomes 8p, 10q, 13q, and 16q. P53 mutations in the primary prostate cancer are relatively low  and are more frequently seen in metastatic settings, hence, p53 mutations are late event in pathology of prostate cancer. Other tumor suppressor genes that are thought to play a role in prostate  cancer include PTEN (gene) and KAI1. “Up to 70 percent of men with prostate cancer have lost one copy of the PTEN gene at the time of diagnosis”   Relative frequency of loss of E-cadherin and  CD44 has also been observed.

RUNX2 is a transcription factor that prevents cancer cells from undergoing apoptosis thereby contributing to the development of prostate cancer.

The PI3k/Akt signaling cascade works with the transforming growth factor beta/SMAD signaling cascade to ensure prostate cancer cell survival and protection against apoptosis. X-linked
inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) is hypothesized to promote prostate cancer cell survival and growth and is a target of research because if this inhibitor can be shut down then the apoptosis cascade  can carry on its function in preventing cancer cell proliferation.  Macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1) stimulates the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling pathway which leads to prostate  cancer cell growth and survival.

The androgen receptor helps prostate cancer cells to survive and is a target for many anti cancer research studies; so far, inhibiting the androgen receptor has only proven to be effective in mouse  studies.   Prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) stimulates the development of prostate cancer by increasing folate levels for the cancer cells to use to survive and grow; PSMA increases  available folates for use by hydrolyzing glutamated folates.

Diagnosis :
The American Cancer Society’s position regarding early detection is “Research has not yet proven that the potential benefits of testing outweigh the harms of testing and treatment. The American  Cancer Society believes that men should not be tested without learning about what we know and don’t know about the risks and possible benefits of testing and treatment. Starting at age 50, (45 if African American or brother or father suffered from condition before age 65) the man should  talk to the doctor about the pros and cons of testing so  the person can decide if testing is the right choice for  him.”

The only test that can fully confirm the diagnosis of prostate cancer is a biopsy, the removal of small pieces of the prostate for microscopic examination. However, prior to a biopsy, less invasive  testing can be conducted.

There are also several other tests that can be used to gather more information about the prostate and the urinary tract. Digital rectal examination (DRE) may allow a doctor to detect prostate  abnormalities. Cystoscopy shows the urinary tract from inside the bladder, using a thin, flexible camera tube inserted down the urethra. Transrectal ultrasonography creates a picture of the prostate  using sound waves from a probe in the rectum.

Prostate screening tests :

*Digital rectal exam (DRE). During a DRE, your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to examine your prostate, which is adjacent to the rectum. If your doctor finds any
abnormalities in the texture, shape or size of your gland, you may need more tests.

*Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. A blood sample is drawn from a vein in your arm and analyzed for PSA, a substance that’s naturally produced by your prostate gland. It’s normal for a small  amount of PSA to be in your bloodstream. However, if a higher than normal level is found, it may be an indication of prostate infection, inflammation, enlargement or cancer.
PSA testing combined with DRE helps identify prostate cancers at their earliest stages, but studies have disagreed whether these tests reduce the risk of dying of prostate cancer. For that reason,  there is debate surrounding prostate cancer screening.

If an abnormality is detected on a DRE or PSA test, your doctor may recommend tests to determine whether you have prostate cancer, such as:

*Ultrasound. If other tests raise concerns,  the doctor may use transrectal ultrasound to further evaluate your prostate. A small probe, about the size and shape of a cigar, is inserted into  the rectum. The probe uses sound waves to make a picture of the  prostate gland.

*Collecting a sample of prostate tissue. If initial test results suggest prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend a procedure to collect a sample of cells from your prostate (prostate biopsy).

Prostate biopsy is often done using a thin needle that’s inserted into the prostate to collect tissue. The tissue sample is analyzed in a lab to determine whether cancer cells are present.

Now to Determining whether prostate cancer is aggressive:

When a biopsy confirms the presence of cancer, the next step is to determine the level of aggressiveness (grade) of the cancer cells. In a laboratory, a pathologist examines a sample of the cancer cell to determine how much cancer cells differ from the healthy cells. A higher grade indicates a more aggressive cancer that is more likely to spread quickly.

The most common scale used to evaluate the grade of prostate cancer cells is called a Gleason score. Scoring combines two numbers and can range from 2 (nonaggressive cancer) to 10 (very aggressive cancer).

For  determining how far the cancer has spread:

Once a prostate cancer diagnosis has been made, your doctor works to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer. If your doctor suspects your cancer may have spread beyond your prostate, imaging tests such as these may be recommended:

*Bone scan
*Ultrasound
*Computerized tomography (CT) scan
*Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
*Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

It is not every person should have every test. The doctor will determine which tests are best for  every  individual case.

Once testing is complete,  the doctor assigns the stage and this helps determination of  treatment options. The prostate cancer stages are:

Stage I. This stage signifies very early cancer that’s confined to a small area of the prostate. When viewed under a microscope, the cancer cells aren’t considered aggressive.

Stage II. Cancer at this stage may still be small but may be considered aggressive when cancer cells are viewed under the microscope. Or cancer that is stage II may be larger and may have grown to  involve both sides of the prostate gland.

Stage III. The cancer has spread beyond the prostate to the seminal vesicles or other nearby tissues.

Stage IV. The cancer has grown to invade nearby organs, such as the bladder, or spread to lymph nodes, bones, lungs or other organs.

Treatment:
Prostate cancer treatment options depend on several factors, such as how fast your cancer is growing, how much it has spread and the overall health  and age of the patient , as well as the benefits  and the potential side effects of the treatment.Immediate treatment may not be necessary for men diagnosed with very early-stage of  prostate cancer. Some men may never need treatment. Instead, doctors sometimes recommend active  surveillance.

In active surveillance, regular follow-up blood tests, rectal exams and possibly biopsies may be performed to monitor progression of your cancer. If tests show your cancer is progressing, you may opt for a prostate cancer treatment such as surgery or radiation.

Active surveillance may be an option for cancer that isn’t causing symptoms, is expected to grow very slowly and is confined to a small area of the prostate. Active surveillance may also be

considered for a man who has another serious health condition or an advanced age that makes cancer treatment more difficult.

Active surveillance carries a risk that the cancer may grow and spread between checkups, making it less likely to be cured.

For other cases the the following treatment is recomended:

*Radiation therapy : Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy to kill cancer cells. Prostate cancer radiation therapy can be delivered in two ways:

Radiation that comes from outside of  the body (external beam radiation). During external beam radiation therapy, the patient   lie on a table while a machine moves around the body, directing high-

powered energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to   prostate cancer.The patient  typically undergo external beam radiation treatments five days a week for several weeks.

Radiation placed inside  the body (brachytherapy). Brachytherapy involves placing many rice-sized radioactive seeds in your prostate tissue. The radioactive seeds deliver a low dose of radiation

over a long period of time. The doctor implants the radioactive seeds in patient’s prostate using a needle guided by ultrasound images. The implanted seeds eventually stop giving off radiation and  don’t need to be removed.

Side effects of radiation therapy can include painful urination, frequent urination and urgent urination, as well as rectal symptoms, such as loose stools or pain when passing stools. Erectile dysfunction can also occur.

Hormone therapy:
Hormone therapy is treatment to stop  the patient’s body from producing the male hormone testosterone. Prostate cancer cells rely on testosterone to help them grow. Cutting off the supply of hormones may cause cancer cells to die or to grow more slowly.

Options of hormone therapy:
*Medications that stop the body from producing testosterone. Medications known as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) agonists prevent the testicles from receiving messages to make testosterone. Drugs typically used in this type of hormone therapy include leuprolide (Lupron, Eligard), goserelin (Zoladex), triptorelin (Trelstar) and histrelin (Vantas). Other drugs sometimes used include ketoconazole and abiraterone (Zytiga).

*Medications that block testosterone from reaching cancer cells. Medications known as anti-androgens prevent testosterone from reaching your cancer cells. Examples include bicalutamide (Casodex), flutamide, and nilutamide (Nilandron). The drug enzalutamide (Xtandi) may be an option when other hormone therapies are no longer effective.

Surgery to remove the testicles (orchiectomy).
Removing  the testicles reduces testosterone levels in the body.
Hormone therapy is used in men with advanced prostate cancer to shrink the cancer and slow the growth of tumors. In men with early-stage prostate cancer, hormone therapy may be used to shrink tumors before radiation therapy. This can make it more likely that radiation therapy will be successful.

Side effects of hormone therapy may include erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, loss of bone mass, reduced sex drive and weight gain.

Surgery to remove the prostate:
Surgery for prostate cancer involves removing the prostate gland (radical prostatectomy), some surrounding tissue and a few lymph nodes. Ways the radical prostatectomy procedure can be performed include:

*Using a robot to assist with surgery. During robot-assisted surgery, the instruments are attached to a mechanical device (robot) and inserted into  the abdomen through several small incisions. The surgeon sits at a console and uses hand controls to guide the robot to move the instruments. Robotic prostatectomy may allow the surgeon to make more-precise movements with surgical tools than is possible with traditional minimally invasive surgery.

*Making an incision in  the abdomen. During retropubic surgery, the prostate gland is taken out through an incision in  the lower abdomen. Compared with other types of prostate surgery, retropubic prostate surgery may carry a lower risk of nerve damage, which can lead to problems with bladder control and erections.

*Making an incision between  the anus and scrotum. Perineal surgery involves making an incision between  the anus and scrotum in order to access  the prostate. The perineal approach to surgery may allow for quicker recovery times, but this technique makes removing the nearby lymph nodes and avoiding nerve damage more difficult.

*Laparoscopic prostatectomy. During a laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, the doctor performs surgery through small incisions in the abdomen with the assistance of a tiny camera (laparoscope). This procedure requires great skill on the part of the surgeon, and it carries an increased risk that nearby structures may be accidentally cut. For this reason, this type of surgery is not commonly performed for prostate cancer in the U.S. anymore.

The Doctor should decide which type of surgery is best for  the specific situation.

Radical prostatectomy carries a risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. The riskfactors that the patient   may face based on the situation, the type of procedure the patient may select, according to his age, body type and  overall health.

Freezing of prostate tissue:
Cryosurgery or cryoablation involves freezing tissue to kill cancer cells.

During cryosurgery for prostate cancer, small needles are inserted in the prostate using ultrasound images as guidance. A very cold gas is placed in the needles, which causes the surrounding tissue to freeze. A second gas is then placed in the needles to reheat the tissue. The cycles of freezing and thawing kill the cancer cells and some surrounding healthy tissue.

Initial attempts to use cryosurgery for prostate cancer resulted in high complication rates and unacceptable side effects. However, newer technologies have lowered complication rates, improved cancer control and made the procedure easier to tolerate. Cryosurgery may be an option for men who haven’t been helped by radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy:
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administered through a vein in your arm, in pill form or both.

Chemotherapy may be a treatment option for men with prostate cancer that has spread to distant areas of their bodies. Chemotherapy may also be an option for cancers that don’t respond to hormone therapy.

Biological therapy:
Biological therapy (immunotherapy) uses your body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. One type of biological therapy called sipuleucel-T (Provenge) has been developed to treat advanced, recurrent prostate cancer.

This treatment takes some of the patient’s own immune cells, genetically engineers them in a laboratory to fight prostate cancer, then injects the cells back into your body through a vein. Some men do respond to this therapy with some improvement in their cancer, but the treatment is very expensive and requires multiple treatments.

Alternative therapy:
It is believed that regular Yoga exercise with Pranayama  and Meditation under the guideline of some expart  may help a lot to cope with the distress of the patient.

Prevention:
Diet and lifestyle

The data on the relationship between diet and prostate cancer is poor.   In light of this the rate of prostate cancer is linked to the consumption of the Western diet.  There is little if any evidence to support an association between trans fat, saturated fat and carbohydrate intake and risk of prostate cancer.  Evidence regarding the role of omega-3 fatty acids in preventing prostate cancer does not suggest that they reduce the risk of prostate cancer, although additional research is needed. Vitamin supplements appear to have no effect and some may increase the risk.  High calcium intake has been linked to advanced prostate cancer. Consuming fish may lower prostate cancer deaths but does not appear to affect its occurrence.  Some evidence supports lower rates of prostate cancer with a vegetarian diet.  There is some tentative evidence for foods containing lycopene and selenium.  Diets rich in cruciferous vegetables, soy, beans and other legumes may be associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer, especially more advanced cancers.

Men who get regular exercise may have a slightly lower risk, especially vigorous activity and the risk of advanced prostate cancer.

You may click & see :  Prostate  problems
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostate_cancer
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/basics/definition/con-20029597

Rhododendron aureum

 

Botanical Name : Rhododendron aureum
Family: Ericaceae
Subfamily: Ericoideae
Tribe: Rhodoreae
Genus: Rhododendron
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms : R. chrysanthum. Pall.

Common Mane :Rosebay, Yellow-flowered rhododendron,Snow rose.

Habitat :
Rhododendron aureum is native to E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea. It grows on the thickets in high mountain areas, both alpine and sub-alpine. Grasslands or liverwort-mosses strata in the alpine region at elevations of 1000 – 2500 metres.

Description:
It is a small evergreen  compact or prostrate shrub.This is a small bush, with the stem from 1 to 1 1/2 feet high, spreading, very much branched, often almost hidden among moss, from which the tips only of its shoots are protruded. The leaves are alternate, of the texture of a laurel leaf, ovate, somewhat acute, tapering into the stalk, reticulated and very rough above, and paler and smoother underneath. The flowers are large, showy, nodding, and borne on clustered, terminal, loose peduncles, emerging from among large downy scales. Corolla campanulate, 5-cleft, with rounded segments, of which the three upper are rather the largest, and streaked with livid dots next the tube, the lower unspotted. Stamens 10, unequal, and deflexed; the anthers oblong, incumbent, and without appendages, opening by two terminal pores. Capsule ovate, rather angular, 5-celled, 5-valved, and septicidal; seeds numerous and minute (L.). It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

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Cultivation:
Succeeds in a most humus-rich lime-free soils except those of a dry arid nature or those that are heavy or claye. Prefers a peaty or well-drained sandy loam. Succeeds in sun or shade, the warmer the climate the more shade a plant requires. A pH between 4.5 and 5.5 is ideal. Succeeds in a woodland though, because of its surface-rooting habit[200], it does not compete well with surface-rooting trees. Plants need to be kept well weeded, they dislike other plants growing over or into their root system, in particular they grow badly with ground cover plants, herbaceous plants and heathers. Plants form a root ball and are very tolerant of being transplanted, even when quite large, so long as the root ball is kept intact. Closely related to R. caucasicum. This species is very rare and difficult to cultivate. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn and given artificial light. Alternatively sow the seed in a lightly shaded part of the warm greenhouse in late winter or in a cold greenhouse in April. Surface-sow the seed and do not allow the compost to become dry. Pot up the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse for at least the first winter. Layering in late July. Takes 15 – 24 months. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Difficult.

Medicinal Uses:
It has been much used in folk medicine in Siberia for the treatment of rheumatism, gout, and urinary tract infections.  It has been used in homeopathic medicine in the treatment of urinary calculi and inflammation of the prostate gland. Caution should be exercised when using the flowers because they are toxic. Hemostatic, they are used in the treatment of spreading pus and blood in the thoracic region, especially the lungs.  Much used in Siberia as a remedy for rheumatism. Also useful in gout and syphilis.  The flowers are used in Tibetan medicine, they are said to have a bitter taste and a neutral potency. Caution should be exercised when using the flowers because they are toxic. Hemostatic, they are used in the treatment of spreading pus and blood in the thoracic region, especially the lungs.

Known Hazards:  Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many members have poisonous leaves. The pollen of many if not all species of rhododendrons is also probably toxic, being said to cause intoxication when eaten in large quantities.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.rosebay.org/chapterweb/specaur.htm
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rhododendron_aureum_Georgi.jpg
http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/kings/rhododendron.html
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Rhododendron_aureum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm?Voucher2=Connect+to+Internet

Chemotherapy

Definition:
Chemotherapy is a medical treatment that is needed in order to stop cancer cells from growing and its tracks. Chemotherapy is extremely effective in treating cancer. It is even more effective when it is used with other treatments like radiotherapy. It is also sometimes needed to relief the symptoms, and it is design to give a longer life by causing the disease to go into remission-the stage in which there are no active symptoms.  Chemotherapy works differently than surgery or radiotherapy – two other treatments designed to fight against the cancer as well. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout the whole body. This is important because it allows the durgs to reach part of the body where the cancer cells may have spread out. In combination with surgery means that fewer surgical procedures need to be done. Follow-up surgery can often be avoided if chemotherapy is used.

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On the other hand, radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of high energy rays to treat such disease. Is it very important to know that radiation causes damage to cancer cells, so they stop growing. With each treatment, more of the cells die and the tumor shrinks. The dead cells break down and are carried away by the blood, eventually passing out of the body. Normal cells that are also exposed to the radiation process start to repair themselves afterwards, and the process lasts just a few hours. You might be concerned that radiation hurts, but is actually quite painless. Also, in case you are wondering, the radiation gets into your body and then passes out -it does not cause you to become radioactive.

To understand how chemotherapy works, it is helpful to know some basics about the cells of the body. Everything in your body is made up of cells. A group of cells is called tissue and tissues make up all the organs, the major structures of your body. Tissue stays healthy because cells grow and reproduce, new cells replace the ones that are damaged because of injury. This means that a combination of drugs may be used to attack cancer cells so that each drug can attack the cells in a different phase.

Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow and multiply at a very high rate. There are more than 100 specific types of cancer cells. Cancer also may involve the spread of abnormal cells around the body. Normal cells in our body grow, divide, and die in a way that maintains health and does not damage the body. A majority for the cancer cases are due to age issues because of the fact that in adulthood your cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells, or in other cases, to repair injuries. Cells make up all living tissue and stronger throughout your childhood. But cancer cells continue to grow and divide, even though they are no serving in any of the vital functions, and can spread to other parts in the body. These cells clump together and form tumors (lumps) that may destroy normal tissue. If cells break off from a tumor, they can travel  throughout the blood stream or the lymphatic system. When they settle in and grow; eventually, forming other tumors. When a tumor spreads out to a new place, it is called metastasis. Even when cancer spreads, it’s called by the name of the body where it originally started and developed. Leukemia, a type of cancer growing, does not usually form a tumor, it is an exception to the rule. The cancer cells get into the blood and the organs that make blood bone narrow, then they circulate through other tissues, where they eventually develop and grow.

Chemotherapy damages cancer cells, but it also can damage normal cells. Damage to these cells is what causes the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. For instance normal cells that divide quickly, such as blood cells and the cells of hair follicles, are more likely to be damaged by chemotherapy medications. In other words, in healthy cells the damage does not last, and many only happen on the days you are actually taking the drugs. Chemotherapy is usually given is several cycles. Depending on the drug and combination, it may last to a few hours, days, or weeks.

How Chemotherapy Is Given
Just as other medicines can be taken in various forms, there are several ways to get chemotherapy. In most cases, it’s given intravenously into a vein, also referred to as an IV. An IV is a tiny tube inserted into a vein through the skin, usually in the arm. The IV is attached to a bag that holds the medicine. The chemo medicine flows from the bag into the vein, which puts the medicine into the bloodstream. Once the medicine is in the blood, it can travel through the body and attack cancer cells.

Sometimes, a permanent IV called a catheter is placed under the skin into a larger blood vessel of the upper chest. That way, a child can get chemotherapy and other medicines through the catheter without having to always use a vein in the arm. The catheter remains under the skin until all the cancer treatment is completed. It can also be used to obtain blood samples and for other treatments, such as blood transfusions, without repeated needle sticks.

Chemo also can be:

•taken as a pill, capsule, or liquid that is swallowed
•given by injection into a muscle or the skin
•injected into spinal fluid through a needle inserted into a fluid-filled space in the lower spine (below the spinal cord)

Chemotherapy is sometimes used along with other cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy, surgery, or biological therapy (the use of substances to boost the body’s immune system while fighting cancer).

Lots of kids and teens receive combination therapy, which is the use of two or more cancer-fighting drugs. In many cases, combination therapy lessens the chance that a child’s cancer will become resistant to one type of drug — and improves the chances that the cancer will be cured.

When and Where Chemotherapy Is Given
Depending on the method used to administer chemotherapy, it may be given at a hospital, cancer treatment center, doctor’s office, or at home. Many kids receive chemotherapy on an outpatient basis at a clinic or hospital. Others may need to be hospitalized to monitor or treat side effects.

Kids may receive chemotherapy every day, every week, or every month. Doctors sometimes use the term “cycles” to describe a child’s chemotherapy because the treatment periods are interspersed with periods of rest so the child can recover and regain strength.

Dosage :
Dosage of chemotherapy can be difficult: If the dose is too low, it will be ineffective against the tumor, whereas, at excessive doses, the toxicity (side effects, neutropenia) will be intolerable to the patient. This has led to the formation of detailed “dosing schemes” in most hospitals, which give guidance on the correct dose and adjustment in case of toxicity. In immunotherapy, they are in principle used in smaller dosages than in the treatment of malignant diseases.

In most cases, the dose is adjusted for the patient’s body surface area, a measure that correlates with blood volume. The BSA is usually calculated with a mathematical formula or a nomogram, using a patient’s weight and height, rather than by direct measurement.

Side Effects:
Although chemo often effectively damages or eliminates cancer cells, it also can damage normal, healthy cells. And this can lead to some uncomfortable side effects.

The good news is that most side effects are temporary — as the body’s normal cells recover, the side effects gradually go away.

Cancer treatment is multifaceted — that is, patients receive a lot of care (i.e., fluid and nutrition support, transfusion support, physical therapy, and medicines) to help them tolerate the treatments and treat or prevent side effects such as nausea and vomiting.

It’s difficult to pinpoint which side effects a  patient might experience, how long they’ll last, and when they’ll end.

The common side effects are:
1.Fatigue
2.Discomfort and Pain
3.Skin Damage or Changes
4.Hair Loss and Scalp Sensitivity
5.Mouth, Gum, and Throat Sores
6.Gastrointestinal Problems

Other side effects are:
•Anemia
•Blood Clotting
•Increased Risk of Infection

Chemo may cause a reduction in white blood cells, which are part of the immune system and help the body to fight infection. Therefore,  the patient  is more vulnerable to developing infections during and after chemo.

•Long-Term Side Effects
Chemotherapy can cause long-term side effects (sometimes called late effects), depending on the type and dose of chemotherapy and whether it was combined with radiation. These effects may involve any organ, including the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, liver, thyroid gland, and reproductive organs. Some types of chemotherapy drugs may also increase the risk of cancer later in life. Receiving chemo during childhood also may place some kids at risk for delayed growth and cognitive development, depending on the child’s age, the type of drug used, the dosage, and whether chemotherapy was used in addition to radiation therapy.

Newer anticancer drugs act directly against abnormal proteins in cancer cells; this is termed targeted therapy and is technically not chemotherapy.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://englendd.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/chemotherapy/
http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/ill/chemotherapy.html#
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemotherapy

http://medicineworld.org/cancer/lead/11-2008/concurrent-chemotherapy-in-lung-cancer.html

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Radiotherapy

Definition:
Radiotherapy is a way of treating or managing cancer using radiation. It works by damaging cells in the area being treated. Normal cells are able to repair this damage, but cancer cells can’t and are destroyed.
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Radiation therapy is commonly applied to the cancerous tumor because of its ability to control cell growth. Ionizing radiation works by damaging the DNA of exposed tissue, furthermore, it is believed that cancerous cells may be more susceptible to death by this process as many have turned off their DNA repair machinery during the process of becoming cancerous. To spare normal tissues (such as skin or organs which radiation must pass through in order to treat the tumor), shaped radiation beams are aimed from several angles of exposure to intersect at the tumor, providing a much larger absorbed dose there than in the surrounding, healthy tissue. Besides the tumour itself, the radiation fields may also include the draining lymph nodes if they are clinically or radiologically involved with tumor, or if there is thought to be a risk of subclinical malignant spread. It is necessary to include a margin of normal tissue around the tumor to allow for uncertainties in daily set-up and internal tumor motion. These uncertainties can be caused by internal movement (for example, respiration and bladder filling) and movement of external skin marks relative to the tumor position.

Radiation oncology is the medical specialty concerned with prescribing radiation, and is distinct from radiology, the use of radiation in medical imaging and diagnosis). Radiation may be prescribed by a radiation oncologist with intent to cure (“curative”) or for adjuvant therapy. It may also be used as palliative treatment (where cure is not possible and the aim is for local disease control or symptomatic relief) or as therapeutic treatment (where the therapy has survival benefit and it can be curative). It is also common to combine radiation therapy with surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, Immunotherapy or some mixture of the four. Most common cancer types can be treated with radiation therapy in some way. The precise treatment intent (curative, adjuvant, neoadjuvant, therapeutic, or palliative) will depend on the tumor type, location, and stage, as well as the general health of the patient. Total body irradiation (TBI) is a radiation therapy technique used to prepare the body to receive a bone marrow transplant. Brachytherapy, in which a radiation source is placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment, is another form of radiation therapy that minimizes exposure to healthy tissue during procedures to treat cancers of the breast, prostate and other organs.

Radiation therapy has several applications in non-malignant conditions, such as the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, severe thyroid eye disease, pterygium, pigmented villonodular synovitis, and prevention of keloid scar growth, vascular restenosis , and heterotopic ossification. The use of radiation therapy in non-malignant conditions is limited partly by worries about the risk of radiation-induced cancers.

Method of radiotherapy
Radiotherapy can be given as teletherapy (also known as external beam radiotherapy), when a beam of radiation is aimed at the area to be treated from a machine located away from the patient.

Other forms of radiotherapy are high or low-dose brachytherapy, which involves a radioactive source being placed on or in a tumour.

Dose:
The amount of radiation used in photon radiation therapy is measured in gray (Gy), and varies depending on the type and stage of cancer being treated. For curative cases, the typical dose for a solid epithelial tumor ranges from 60 to 80 Gy, while lymphomas are treated with 20 to 40 Gy.

Preventative (adjuvant) doses are typically around 45 – 60 Gy in 1.8 – 2 Gy fractions (for Breast, Head, and Neck cancers.) Many other factors are considered by radiation oncologists when selecting a dose, including whether the patient is receiving chemotherapy, patient comorbidities, whether radiation therapy is being administered before or after surgery, and the degree of success of surgery.

Delivery parameters of a prescribed dose are determined during treatment planning (part of dosimetry). Treatment planning is generally performed on dedicated computers using specialized treatment planning software. Depending on the radiation delivery method, several angles or sources may be used to sum to the total necessary dose. The planner will try to design a plan that delivers a uniform prescription dose to the tumor and minimizes dose to surrounding healthy tissues.

Treatment planning
All patients who are to have radiotherapy need individually tailored treatment so it is given accurately. A lot of information is needed so the doctor can target the tumour while minimising damage to the healthy tissue. This is called treatment planning and there are a number of ways of doing this.

Simulator planning is done using a specialised x-ray machine that can do the same things as the treatment machines except deliver treatment. The simulator allows the doctor to carefully look at the area that needs treatment and plan it precisely. During the planning, the radiographer will draw some marks on the skin using a pen; when the doctor and radiographer are happy they have an accurate plan, the radiographer may need to make two to three permanent marks called tattoos. These tattoos are the size of a pinhead and are used to ensure the radiotherapy is given to exactly the right place.

ACQSIM planning is done using a scanner. Some patients may need to have an intravenous injection before the scan to show up the area to be treated better. The scan usually takes about 15 minutes and the information from the scan is used to produce a treatment map. Sometimes it’s necessary to take some x-rays and measurements to check the treatment map and this is done on the simulator.

What radiotherapy involves
When radiotherapy treatment is being given by external beam, it’s important the patient is in exactly the same position each time. The radiographers will often use pillows and wedges to make sure the patient is comfortable and in the correct position.

Patients having radiotherapy to the head or neck area may need to have a mould made to keep them in the right position. Moulds are made from clear Perspex after a plaster cast has been made of the head and neck. Once the Perspex mould has been made, the radiotherapy is planned while the patient is wearing the mould and marks are drawn on the mask instead of the skin.

Once the radiographers are happy that the patient is in the correct position they will leave the room to switch the treatment machine on. When the machine is on it makes a buzzing noise. The radiographers watch closely on a television screen. Treatment only lasts a few minutes and does not hurt.

Side effect of radiotherapy
Side effects are different depending on the part of the body being treated. Most side effects are temporary but some may continue for weeks or months after treatment is finished. They include:

•Hair loss (alopecia)
•Cerebral oedema (excess fluid accumulating in the brain) can cause changes in mental state, restlessness, irritability, impaired pupil reactions, headache, increase in blood pressure, decrease in pulse and respiration, and nausea
•Dry or sore mouth or throat, changes in taste sensation, skin thickening
•Inflammation of the gullet, indigestion, nausea, lung inflammation
•Nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, cystitis
•Sexual dysfunction. In males treatment of the abdomen area can cause impotence, sterility. In females it can cause sterility, loss of sexual desire. Irradiation of the pelvis may cause tightening of the vagina, loss of vaginal lubrication, inflammation or ulceration of the vagina. Some women may find intercourse painful
•Treatment of red bone marrow may cause infection and impaired healing, anaemia, increased tiredness, bruising and bleeding

As well as treating cancer the radiotherapy temporarily damages the outer layers of skin. During treatment the skin cannot repair itself as it normally would and it can become sore. But once treatment has finished the skin generally recovers quite quickly – usually within a month. The level of reaction can depend on your skin type, the type and number of treatments you have, and how you would normally react to the sun.

Skin side effects usually happen later on in the course of radiotherapy treatment or sometimes a few weeks after treatment has finished. Many patients do not have any skin changes at all. Skin care advice will be given to the patients by the staff treating them.

A common side effect of radiotherapy is tiredness and fatigue, which often prevents patients from doing normal everyday activities. Fatigue and tiredness are normal results of having radiotherapy and begin in the first week of treatment, reaching a peak after two weeks of treatment and gradually disappearing a few weeks after treatment has finished.

Radiation therapy accidents:
There are rigorous procedures in place to minimise the risk of accidental overexposure of radiation therapy to patients. However, mistakes do occasionally occur; for example, the radiation therapy machine Therac-25 was responsible for at least six accidents between 1985 and 1987, where patients were given up to one hundred times the intended dose; two people were killed directly by the radiation overdoses. From 2005 to 2010, a hospital in Missouri overexposed 76 patients (most with brain cancer) during a five-year period because new radiation equipment had been set up incorrectly.  Although medical errors are exceptionally rare, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and other members of the radiation therapy treatment team are working to eliminate them. ASTRO has launched a safety initiative called Target Safely  that, among other things, aims to record errors nationwide so that doctors can learn from each and every mistake and prevent them from happening. ASTRO also publishes a list of questions for patients to ask their doctors about radiation safety to ensure every treatment is as safe as possible.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_therapy
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/in_depth/cancer/carecancer_radio.shtml
http://www.allvitalpoints.com/2010/how-radiotherapy-is-performed/

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