Palliative Radiotherapy Delivers Help for Ongoing Supportive Care

With more cancer patients living longer lives despite metastatic tumors, the need for ongoing pain management and symptomatic relief is becoming evident. Pain, especially, is a concern for those with tumors located in the bone, spine or brain. While medications can deliver some pain management support, palliative radiotherapy may offer a stronger, more immediate prong of support without necessarily degrading quality of life in the process.

Doctors are finding that palliative radiotherapy can provide rapid symptomatic relief of neurologic symptoms, bleeding and obstructions that are often associated with incurable or metastatic tumors. In shrinking and/or controlling tumor growth more effectively, this treatment can restore quality of life for some patients with incurable cancer.

Patients who are offered palliative radiotherapy need to be aware the treatment is designed as a support mechanism, but not as a cure. It is meant to target tumors for relief of symptoms, providing patients a fast, cost-effective and overall effective way to manage symptoms.

Like regular radiotherapy, palliative treatments target tumors with an eye on killing the cancer cells. Rather than seeking a cure, however, this form of radiotherapy is meant to control or delay the growth of a tumor to help prolong life while potentially avoiding quality-of-life affecting side effects and symptoms.

While palliative radiotherapy can provide patients with dramatic results in pain and symptom management, the treatments have been shown to have the potential for diminishing returns over time. That means they may essentially stop working at some point and fail to provide the desired relief.

Managing the long-term care of patients with incurable or metastatic cancer can be aided by palliative radiotherapy. This tool can provide the necessary relief to help patients enjoy a higher quality of life for a time. Even so, the treatment is merely supportive and does not deliver a cure. Those interested in learning more about the potential palliative radiotherapy might provide in their cases are urged to discuss the option with their healthcare providers.

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