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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death all over the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this fatal disease accounts for almost 10 million deaths. In the majority of cases, it has been seen that the disease is detected at a later stage, due to which the risk of mortality increases. A benign tumour is usually ignored at the initial stages, and there are a lot of misconceptions about it. In reality, benign tumours are non-cancerous growths that develop in the body. While they are not cancerous, they can still cause harm if they grow and press against surrounding organs or tissues.
We spoke to Dr Mandeep Singh Malhotra, Director- Surgical Oncology, CK Birla Hospital (R), Delhi, to understand more about the available options for treating cancer patients in India.
Unlike cancerous tumours, benign tumours do not spread to other parts of the body. They are typically slow-growing and do not invade nearby tissues or organs. They also tend to have a well-defined border, making them easier to remove.
Surgery is the treatment of choice for benign tumours. Radiation therapy is often used for benign tumours where surgery may be too risky due to the location of the tumour such as certain intracranial or intraspinal lesions where the surgery will involve radical and morbid procedures like craniotomy or when the patient's overall health does not allow surgery to be performed.
When talking about the treatment of cancer, radiotherapy is considered one of the most suitable options. Commonly known as radiation therapy, this medical treatment is used to destroy cancer cells or prevent them from growing and dividing. This treatment option is often used as a treatment for cancer, but it can also be used to treat benign and non-cancerous tumours.
Radiation therapy works by using high-energy radiation to destroy or damage the DNA of the cells in the tumour, which can cause the tumour to shrink or stop growing. It can be delivered externally or internally. It is often used in combination with surgery and chemotherapy to treat cancer. Radiotherapy can be an effective treatment for benign tumours like meningioma, schwannoma, graves ophthalmopathy and orbital pseudotumor.
Radiation therapy is often used for benign tumours that are inoperable, or in cases where surgery may be too risky due to the location of the tumour or the patient's overall health. It can also be used to treat benign tumours that are causing symptoms, such as pain or pressure on surrounding organs or tissues.
Some examples of benign tumours that can be treated with radiation therapy include:
Over the past few decades, there have been significant advancements in radiotherapy technology, which have made this treatment much more effective, precise, and benign. Some of the latest technological advancements in radiotherapy and their impact on cancer treatment include:
It is a non-invasive treatment for malignant and non-cancerous tumours, as well as other disorders where radiation therapy is required. It is used to treat disorders throughout the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, head and neck, liver, pancreas, and kidney, and can be used as an alternative to surgery or for individuals with inoperable or surgically complicated tumours.
It is frequently a safer alternative to traditional brain surgery (neurosurgery), which entails scalp incisions, an opening in the skull and membranes surrounding the brain, and dissection into brain tissue. This type of radiation therapy is used to treat small noncancerous (benign) tumours. Gamma Knife is a form of radiosurgery that uses highly focused gamma rays to treat brain tumours and other neurological conditions. Despite its name, Gamma Knife does not involve a knife or surgery in the traditional sense.
Apart from that, to treat malignant cancer cells/tumours, radiotherapy plays a very important role. Some of the treatment options include:
It is an advanced form of radiotherapy that uses multiple beams of radiation to deliver a precise dose of radiation to cancer cells. IMRT uses computer algorithms to determine the exact shape and intensity of each beam of radiation, which allows the radiation oncologist to target the tumour while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. IMRT is particularly effective in treating tumours that are located in sensitive areas, such as the brain, spinal cord, and prostate.
This is an advanced imaging technology that is used to guide the delivery of radiation therapy. This technique allows the radiation oncologist to precisely target the tumour, even if it moves or changes position during treatment. IGRT is particularly effective in treating tumours that are located in areas that are prone to movement, such as the lungs and liver.
SRS and SBRT are advanced forms of radiotherapy that use high doses of radiation to treat small tumours or lesions with extreme precision. These techniques are particularly effective in treating tumours that are difficult to access with surgery, such as those located in the brain, spine, and lungs.
This advanced form of radiotherapy uses high-energy protons to destroy cancer cells. Proton therapy is particularly effective in treating tumours that are located near vital organs, such as the brain and spinal cord. Proton therapy has a lower risk of causing damage to healthy tissues than traditional radiotherapy, which makes it an attractive treatment option for many patients.
It is a type of radiotherapy that involves placing radioactive material directly into the tumour or in the surrounding tissue. This technique allows the radiation to be delivered directly to the tumour while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. Brachytherapy is particularly effective in treating tumours that are located in sensitive areas, such as the prostate, cervix, and breast.
While radiation therapy can be effective in treating benign tumours, it can also cause side effects such as fatigue, skin irritation, and damage to surrounding tissues. The decision to use radiation therapy for a benign tumour should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the risks and benefits of the treatment.
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