Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Radiation Oncology - What is it? When is it used? June 14, 2017 #gyncsm Chat

We were so pleased to welcome as our guest Dr. Matthew Katz (@subatomicdoc), radiation oncologist. We appreciate the support and guidance Dr. Katz has provided the #gyncsm community over the past three years. Dr. Katz shared information on our topic Radiation Oncology - What is it? When is it used? with our 23 participants. We were also happy to welcome health care providers @temkins, @Sushilberiwal@embosu@shereesepubhlth as well as @Peach_Society and a few new individuals to our discussion.

During our one hour chat we shared 312 tweets and made over 2.5 Million impressions. For a complete transcript of this chat please check here and for more analytics please check here.

Below you may read a sampling of the responses to our topic questions.

T1: What is radiation oncology? How does it work to treat cancer?

  • Radiation oncology is a field of medicine dedicated to the use of ionizing radiation to treat disease, mostly cancer.
  • Ionizing radiation means it’s breaking chemical bonds in cells, which can lead to biologic effects.
  • Radiation treatments are high-energy x-rays (or other particles) designed and focused within the body as cancer treatment
  • The purpose of radiation=damage cancer cells so they (a) stop growing and (b) die to either help cure cancer or relieve symptoms

T2: Which gynecologic cancers are treated with radiation therapy? Under what circumstances is radiation therapy recommended?

  • For ovarian cancer, there is little need for radiation in most cases. Large areas (abdomen and pelvis) too broad to treat 
  • Radiation often can be helpful in endometrial/uterine cancers. It may help lower the chance of recurrences after surgery
  • cervix, endometrial , vagina and vulvar cancer
  • For cervical cancer, radiation can help after surgery in selected cases. However, sometimes it can replace surgery too 
  • Often the 'benefit' of radiation in low grade endometrioid uterine cancers is based local recurrence, not survival, benefit

T3: What professionals are involved on the care team for radiation therapy? Who on your team did you find most helpful?

  • To do our job well, radiation oncologists work closely with nurses, radiation therapists, dosimetrists, physicists
  • Yes, medical dosimetrists plan the treatments in the computer software with guidance from docs and physicists
  • Don't forget your gyn oncology colleagues! We always have opinions and often provide concurrent chemo.
  • Never forget importance of administrative staff, nutritionists and others...
  • other folks can help too... Pelvic physical therapist or sexual health specialist

T4a: What are the differences in radiation therapy types for gyn cancer - external, internal, etc.?

  • External radiation is usually an x-ray (photon) treatment from about a meter away, aimed inside the body
  • brachytherapy means 'close treatment'. Goal = rapid dose drop-off within millimeters 
  • Proton therapy is a highly sophisticated version of external beam radiation. Instead of x-rays (light particles) it's protons 
  • Most gynecological cancers treated with photon. Proton may be for reradiation

T4b: Patients/Survivors/Loved Ones: Were the questions you had about radiation therapy answered for you?

T5: What side-effects and risks are associated w/ pelvic radiation? What tips do you have for controlling side effects? 

  • Gyn and radiation oncologists are probably best trained to manage side effects of pelvic radiation.
  • Radiation's effects are limited to the area treated. Much more focused with brachytherapy than EBRT(external beam radiation therapy

We hope you will join us next month on July 12, 2017 at 9pm for this year's "What's on your mind? #gyncsm Open Mic Night". Bring your questions about gynecologic cancers, treatment options, concerns about sharing your data, concerns about long term side effects, etc.

Please continue to use #gyncsm when tweeting about news of interest to our community.
See you next month.

#gyncsm Co-founder


NIH - Radiation Therapy and You: Support for People With Cancer

@cancerdotnet radiation therapy resources for patients  

Mayo clinic:

American Society for Radiation Oncology

American Society for Radiation Oncology,  @ASTRO_org

Radiation Oncology

Slide share - Understanding Radiation Oncology

Journal articles
Image-based three-dimensional conformal brachytherapy for medically inoperable endometrial carcinoma

National Cancer Data Base analysis of radiation therapy consolidation modality for cervical cancer: the impact of new technological advancements

Primary radiotherapy for nonsurgically managed Stage I endometrial cancer: Utilization and impact of brachytherapy

MRI-guided high-dose-rate intracavitary brachytherapy for treatment of cervical cancer: the University of Pittsburgh experience

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