Know the main differences between chemotherapy and radiotherapy
Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy are cancer-fighting treatments. However, the recommendation of one or another treatment depends on different variables such as: age, type of cancer, stage of evolution of the disease, the purpose of medical treatment, among other factors. The general differences between the two treatments are indicated below.
Chemotherapy is a treatment administered through an intravenous or oral route whose pharmacological content reaches practically all the tissues of the body. It is for this reason that the drug fights both healthy cells and cancer cells. However, the adequate dose, the term of the treatment and its application plan, allows healthy cells to be little affected, generating mostly side effects, and cancer cells to be attacked in the most effective way possible, seeking their total destruction. .
On the other hand, radiotherapy is a treatment that consists of the application of high doses of radiation on the specific area where the cancer is located. This treatment, like chemotherapy, seeks to destroy cancer cells. In high doses, radiation therapy kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die.
There are two types of radiotherapy, the first, known as "external beam" through which a machine emits radiation on a specific part of the body from different directions, is a local treatment, which means that it exclusively treats a certain area. The second is called internal radiation therapy and can be applied through two sources. The first source is a solid medium, known as brachytherapy, through which a device containing the radiation source is placed inside the body, near or on the tumor, emitting radiation for a determined time; on the other hand, the second source is a liquid medium and is known as systemic therapy. Through this method, radiation therapy can be administered orally, intravenously, or injected.
The appropriate treatment will be determined by the treating physician, and both treatments could even be ordered in succession. For example: chemotherapy may be advised first, then surgery to remove the affected tissue, and finally, radiotherapy sessions. Equally, only radiotherapy treatment may be recommended – each case is different and the same rules will not always apply.