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Radiotherapy In Rectal Cancer Treatment May Have Added Benefit

Undergoing radiation therapy to treat rectal cancer can be a bit intimidating. After all, this form of treatment is designed to effectively kill off cancer cells, but also has a propensity to irradiate nearby, healthy cells in the process. This, as it turns out, may not be an entirely bad turn of events in the case of rectal cancers, researchers are finding.

A recent study involving nearly 30,000 patients with rectal cancer found that these people were more likely to develop second pelvic tumors than the general population. The development, researchers found, was not related to the use of radiation. In fact, those who did receive radiation were about 22 percent less likely to develop pelvic tumors than rectal cancer patients who did not receive radiation.

While more study is required to vet the findings, the results show that radiation may, in some cases, have side benefits that go beyond treating the initial cancer. This form of treatment, however, is not without its potential share of risks. Radiation can have side effects all on its own and it may lead to an increased secondary cancer risk in some cases.

Technological advances are making it safer and safer. Highly controlled beams, such as those used in intensity modulated radiation therapy and proton beam therapy, are making it feasible for clinicians to more readily spare healthy tissue while still treating the cancer. These advancements are making it more likely for doctors to be able to treat cancer effectively while reducing collateral damage to the body in the process.

People who are diagnosed with rectal or any form of cancer should carefully discuss all treatment options with their healthcare providers. Radiation has long been proven highly effective in killing cancer cells, opening the door for potentially successful treatment. This option, however, does have some side effects that patients should be well aware of before undergoing treatment.


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