Cancer incidence rates by sex and age-group, England, 2010.
The National Cancer Institute estimated that 1.7 million new cancer patients will be diagnosed in the United States in 2016 and one-third will die from the disease. In the U.S., expenditures for cancer care totaled nearly $125 billion in 2010 and is expected to increase to $156 billion by 2020. Worldwide, cancer is listed as one of the leading causes of death, with over 60 percent of new cases occurring in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. While one of the generally accepted methods to treat cancer is through the use of radiation therapy, it’s vitally important to recognize and understand the risks and what it does to the body.
Radiation therapy relies on high-powered X-rays which are meant to target and destroy cancer cells. What medical researchers are discovering today, contrary to what they believed in the past, is that radiation treatment actually creates more cancer cells. While radiation therapy can be beneficial for managing pain and providing relief to cancer patients over the short-term, the tumors can regrow very aggressively.
Consequently, before scheduling a radiation therapy appointment for cancer, be sure to ask your Oncologist these 10 questions that are meant to help you take control of your health and have a clear understanding of the cancer treatments being offered:
1. What is the goal of the radiation for my cancer? Is this a cure or a short term solution?
2. What will your proposed treatment do to my cancer stem cells?
3. How will you support my immune system during treatment?
4. How will you protect my heart, lungs, and/or other organs from the radiation?
5. How will this treatment change the cancer environment: Will it only kill some of the cancer cells and leave me vulnerable when the cancer stem cells go on to create more cancer?
6. What is your opinion on taking antioxidants and other supplements during treatment?
7. How will radiation affect my risk of distant relapse, which has a much higher rate of recurrence than patients with stage I or II cancer? In light of the risk of the radiation creating more cancer cells, how will this radiation treatment benefit me?
8. What lifestyle changes will I need to make to improve the outcome of the radiation treatment and protect my body during treatments?
9. Will a planning CAT scan be required to determine the area to be treated? Will I require more than one of these scans which inherently subject me to even more radiation?
10. Would you give this same treatment to your wife or children, and if not, what would you recommend for them? Would you do it yourself?
National Cancer Institute
Measuring National Well-being, Health, 2012
Office for National Statistics, UK
10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Accepting Radiation Therapy for Cancer
By Elyn Jacobs | The Truth About Cancer