Palliative Radiation – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Senior Medical Care Glossary

What is Palliative Radiation?

Palliative radiation therapy is a type of treatment that is used to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients with advanced cancer. Unlike curative radiation therapy, which is aimed at curing the cancer, palliative radiation is focused on managing symptoms such as pain, bleeding, and difficulty breathing. This type of treatment is often used in cases where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and is no longer responding to other forms of treatment.

When is Palliative Radiation used?

Palliative radiation therapy is typically used in situations where the cancer is causing significant symptoms that are impacting the patient’s quality of life. This can include pain, bleeding, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms that are not responding to other treatments. Palliative radiation can be used to shrink tumors, reduce pain, and improve overall quality of life for patients with advanced cancer.

How does Palliative Radiation work?

Palliative radiation therapy works by using high-energy radiation beams to target and destroy cancer cells. The radiation is delivered to the tumor site, where it damages the DNA of the cancer cells, causing them to die. This can help shrink tumors, reduce pain, and improve symptoms for patients with advanced cancer. Palliative radiation therapy is typically delivered in multiple sessions over a period of time, with the goal of providing relief from symptoms and improving quality of life.

What are the side effects of Palliative Radiation?

Like all forms of radiation therapy, palliative radiation can cause side effects. These can include fatigue, skin irritation at the treatment site, nausea, and diarrhea. In some cases, patients may also experience long-term side effects such as scarring or damage to surrounding tissues. It is important for patients to discuss potential side effects with their healthcare team before starting palliative radiation therapy, and to report any side effects they experience during treatment.

Who is eligible for Palliative Radiation treatment?

Palliative radiation therapy is typically recommended for patients with advanced cancer who are experiencing significant symptoms that are impacting their quality of life. This can include patients with metastatic cancer, where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, or patients with locally advanced cancer that is not responding to other treatments. Eligibility for palliative radiation therapy is determined on a case-by-case basis by a patient’s healthcare team, based on factors such as the type and location of the cancer, the patient’s overall health, and their goals for treatment.

How is Palliative Radiation administered?

Palliative radiation therapy is typically administered in multiple sessions over a period of time. The radiation is delivered using a machine called a linear accelerator, which directs high-energy beams of radiation to the tumor site. Patients are positioned on a treatment table, and the radiation beams are carefully targeted to the tumor while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissues. The number of treatment sessions and the total dose of radiation will vary depending on the type and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health and treatment goals. Patients may experience some side effects during and after treatment, but these can usually be managed with medications and supportive care.