The Two Different Kinds Of Radiation Therapy

External Radiation

In External Radiation therapy there is Cobalt or linear acceleration. The patient will be left alone inside the room for radiation therapy where he or she will be exposed to a series of daily radiation. During the course of an external radiation therapy the marks done by the acceleration should never be scrubbed, washed or removed.

The patientís skin however needs to be always dry and free of moisture. If any application is allowed to be placed on his/her skin, then cornstarch should be the only one allowed. Avoid using many topical medications such as talcum powders and other types of lotions. Alcohol types of mouthwash are also contraindicated for External Radiation therapy patients. The patient should also avoid being exposed to too much sunlight, and too extreme of a temperature. Patient should wear loose and non-tight, non-constricting types of clothes.

Before taking the treatment of external radiation therapy, the patient will be instructed to avoid eating anything or taking anything by the mouth. This is 2 to 3 hours before the therapy begins to avoid feelings of being nauseated and dizzy. After the procedure, the patient will then be able to consider himself/herself as free of radiation (not a radiation source).

Internal Radiation (Sealed)

There are basically two types of Internal Radiation Therapy, the sealed and unsealed radiation therapy. In the sealed radiation therapy the radiation source will be placed in a cavity or a place close to the cancerous area. For example, a radiation source will be placed in the breast of a woman who has breast cancer. Examples of sealed radiation sources are Radium, iridium and cesium. The patient during the time of therapy should be placed in a flat position. The radiation source will then be placed on the area adjacent to the cancer by the use of a very long handled forceps.

Radiation sources for sealed therapies should never be touched with your hands. The patient needs to be isolated in a private room during sealed radiation therapy since the radiation may spread to the things close to the source. For example, after sealed internal radiation therapy the linens and pillows inside the room should be kept until all traces of radiation are gone. Pregnant women and children should never be exposed to these types of therapies.

Internal Radiation (Unsealed)

In unsealed radiation therapy the radiation source will be given orally or intravenously through intravenous tubing. In this therapy type the radiation can be removed in the body of the patient by urinating, perspiring, defecating or vomiting. They are excreted at least 8 days in radioactive iodine or 14 days in radioactive phosphorus. Gowns, linens and pillows of the patient should still be handled with care for unsealed radiation therapy. The patient with unsealed radiation therapy will need to wear a badge for identification.

The most important things that you will need to remember in internal radiation therapy is the time and distance. Shortest possible time for visiting/being with your family members undergoing internal radiation therapy is at most 30 minutes. Never go too close to your family member with radiation therapy, the closes you can get is at most 20 feet away from him/her.