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Radiation Therapy

Avg Price: $4000-$20000

Radiation Therapy (RT) is a medical approach that involves utilizing ionizing radiations or radioactive materials to treat malignant (rapidly spreading to whole body) cancer...
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Radiation Therapy: Preparation, Procedure, Recovery, & Treatment Outcomes

95% Success Rate
11000+ Doctors
150+ Top Hospitals
250+ Surgeries
35+ Countries
95% Success Rate
11000+ Doctors
150+ Top Hospitals
250+ Surgeries
35+ Countries

Overview

Radiation Therapy (RT), or radiotherapy is a treatment modality that relies on high-energy rays or radioactive substances to harm cancerous cells and impede their growth and division. For over a century, radiotherapy has proven to be a successful treatment for individuals with cancer. Since its introduction, the objective of RT has been to locally eradicate cancer while minimizing adverse effects. At least 50% of cancer patients undergo radiation therapy at some point during their cancer treatment trajectory. Over the past two decades, significant technological advancements have played a crucial role in enhancing the accuracy of this therapy, leading to notable improvements in its outcomes. 

In India, it is estimated that approximately 2.5 million people are affected by cancer, with over 800,000 new cases emerging and 550,000 deaths occurring annually. Among Indian females, breast and cervical cancers are the most prevalent malignancies, whereas in males, aerodigestive tract cancers such as those in the lungs, stomach, esophagus, and head and neck are most common. Around two-thirds of cancer patients, totaling 500,000 individuals per year, require radiation therapy (RT), a locoregional treatment modality comparable to surgery. The primary objective of RT is to achieve optimal tumor control while minimizing harm to normal tissues. 

Along with patient-centric focus, there is a considerable demand for multidisciplinary approach, procedural expertise and sophistication in RTs to enhance the overall quality of cancer care. India distinguishes itself globally for the outstanding proficiency of its cancer treatment specialists, attributed to their remarkable skills and access to advance as well as affordable healthcare facilities. As a result, people worldwide now have exceptional opportunities to access services from best doctors for radiation therapy and best hospitals for radiation therapy in India. If you're seeking insight, today, we'll shed light on this procedure and its details.

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Types of Radiation Therapy

There are two primary types of Radiation Therapy and both working by disrupting a cancer cell's DNA, leading to cell death and tumor reduction. These are: 

  • External beam radiation therapy (EBRT): It is the more prevalent type, involves directing high-energy radiation beams, such as X-rays, electrons, or protons, from an external machine towards the tumor. Precision is crucial in EBRT, with various techniques employed:
  1. 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy: Uses CT scans and computer software to create a 3D model, guiding radiation beams to target the cancer site while sparing healthy tissue.
  2. Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): Uses multiple radiation beams with varying intensity to deliver higher doses to the tumor and lower doses to healthy tissue.
  3. Arc-Based Radiotherapy: Directs energy beams in a rotational arc-like pattern, delivering radiation faster than traditional IMRT. It includes VMAT and Tomotherapy.
  4. Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT): Involves obtaining low-dose X-ray or mini CT scans before each treatment to align the treatment site precisely.
  5. Particle Therapy: Uses protons instead of photons, potentially reducing radiation dose to healthy tissues.
  6. Stereotactic Radiosurgery: Delivers high doses of focused radiation, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery, to destroy small brain tumors with surgical precision over one to five days.
  7. Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT): Destroys tumors outside the brain with high doses of focused radiation and surgical precision.
  8. Intraoperative Radiation (IORT): Administers radiation during surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells post-surgical removal.
  • Internal radiation therapy: It places radiation sources inside the body near cancer cells, particularly for smaller tumors in the head, neck, breast, cervix, uterus, or prostate. This method can use solid sources (brachytherapy) or liquid forms (systemic therapy):
  1. Brachytherapy: Involves implanting solid radioactive sources or "seeds" inside or beside a tumor, releasing radiation to kill cancer cells. Implants may be temporary or permanent.
  2. Systemic Therapy: Sends liquid radioactive material through the blood, either swallowed or delivered through an IV injection, to find and destroy cancer cells. Radioimmunotherapy, a form of systemic therapy, uses a radioactive protein to recognize and kill specific cancer cells.

These diverse approaches to radiation therapy offer tailored solutions for different types and locations of cancer.

Pre-Evaluation for Radiation Therapy

For internal Radiation Therapy, a physical examination and imaging may be necessary. Your radiation oncologist will provide instructions on preparing for the procedure based on the method of radiation delivery.
In the case of external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), a planning session known as simulation is conducted. Simulation is a crucial step in customizing your treatment and involves:

  • Positioning: You are placed on a table exactly as you will be during treatment sessions. Your radiotherapy team may use a mold or mask to secure your body in place, ensuring correct alignment. Temporary or permanent markings (tiny dots) may be applied to indicate the specific body parts that should receive radiation.
  • Scans: You undergo a CT scan or an MRI to identify the tumor's location. This information aids your care team in tailoring X-rays that target the tumor while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue.
  • Simulation serves as a vital tool for your radiation oncologist to determine the appropriate radiation dosage and delivery method for your specific case.

Following the planning stage, your healthcare team will determine the specific type and dosage of radiation tailored to your individual case. This decision takes into account factors such as the type of cancer you are dealing with, your overall health, and your treatment objectives. The meticulous planning is essential to ensure accuracy in both the dose and targeting of the radiation beams. Precision in this regard minimizes the impact on healthy cells surrounding the cancer, contributing to a more targeted and effective treatment.

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How is Radiation Therapy done?

You may expect following in external Radiotherapy:

  • External beam radiation therapy is done using a machine called a linear accelerator, which directs high-energy beams into your body. 
  • As you remain still, the linear accelerator moves around you, delivering radiation from multiple angles. 
  • Your care team customizes the machine settings for your specific needs, ensuring precise radiation dosage to the exact point on your body. 
  • The experience is akin to receiving an X-ray, and you won't feel the radiation during delivery.
  • Typically performed on an outpatient basis, external beam radiation therapy doesn't require hospitalization. 
  • Treatment frequency often spans five days a week over several weeks to allow healthy cells time to recover between sessions. 
  • Some shorter courses may last 1 to 2 weeks, particularly for relieving symptoms in advanced cancers. 
  • Each session, lasting approximately 10 to 30 minutes, involves positioning your body accurately on the table using molds and props established during planning. 
  • While the linear accelerator emits a buzzing sound and rotates around your body to access the target from different angles, your radiation therapy team remains nearby, accessible through video and audio connections. 
  • Although discomfort during radiation is uncommon, it's important to communicate any concerns to your team.

You may expect following in internal radiotherapy:

  • Internal radiation therapy usually happens in a special outpatient treatment room or in a hospital. 
  • Your radiation oncologist may insert the radiation implant using a small flexible tube called a catheter. 
  • For this treatment, you’ll receive anesthesia so you don’t feel pain or discomfort during the procedure. 
  • With the systemic form of internal radiotherapy, you’ll receive radioactive fluid through an IV.

Complications of Radiation Therapy

Most individuals undergo radiation therapy across several sessions to avoid receiving the full dose all at once. This spaced-out treatment schedule allows healthy tissues time to recover between sessions, minimizing potential side effects. While your radiation oncologist will assist in managing any unpleasant side effects, it's essential to note that these effects typically impact only the specific part of your body receiving radiation. Possible side effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Skin Irritation
  • Dry And Itchy Scalp
  • Hair Loss
  • Mouth Sores
  • Pain During Swallowing
  • Reduced Appetite
  • A Burning Sensation In The Throat Or Chest
  • Pain Or Burning During Urination
  • Frequent Urination In Small Amounts
  • Abdominal Bloating Or Cramps
  • Sense Of Urgency For Bowel Movements

Occasionally, side effects may emerge post-treatment, referred to as late side effects. In extremely rare cases, new cancers may arise years or even decades after the initial cancer treatment, potentially attributed to radiation or other therapeutic interventions. This phenomenon is known as a second primary cancer. To understand what side effects you may suffer, consult with your radiation oncologist, considering the type of radiation therapy recommended for your specific cancer.

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Post-procedure

Following internal radiation therapy, you typically return home after a brief recovery on the same day. In some instances, there might be a need for a hospital stay while your body eliminates minimal amounts of radiation. For systemic (IV) radiotherapy, you may excrete small amounts of radiation through bodily fluids like sweat, urine, and blood.

If you undergo IV or permanent internal radiation therapy, there is a slight risk of exposing others to radiation. It's essential to adhere to the guidance provided by your therapeutic team regarding the extent of contact you should have with others following radiotherapy.

You should be able to resume your regular daily activities both before and after external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), with no risk of exposing others to radiation.

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Life after Radiation Therapy

Following Radiation Therapy, imaging tests may be conducted to assess whether the cancer is undergoing shrinkage. The response to radiotherapy can vary, with some cancers showing immediate improvement, while in other cases, it may take weeks or months to observe the treatment's effectiveness. It's advisable to inquire with your radiotherapy team about the anticipated timeline and outcomes specific to your situation.
Now that your radiation therapy is over, you might be contemplating some health-oriented goals to pursue. Engaging in physical activity, maintaining a nutritious diet, achieving a healthy body weight, and refraining from smoking can contribute to:

  • Regaining or Building Strength: Physical activity and a balanced diet can aid in regaining or building strength after the challenges of treatment.
  • Reducing Side Effects: A healthy lifestyle may help alleviate lingering side effects from treatment.
  • Minimizing the Risk of Second Cancers or Other Health Issues: Adopting healthy habits can contribute to reducing the risk of developing second cancers or other health problems.
  • Managing Stress: Engaging in wellness practices can be effective in managing stress, fostering emotional well-being.
  • Alleviating Fatigue: Following a wellness plan may assist in reducing fatigue, promoting overall energy levels.
  • Enhancing Enjoyment of Life: Embracing a healthy lifestyle can contribute to a more enjoyable and fulfilling life post-treatment.

A personalized wellness plan is a crucial component of your post-treatment care. Tailored to your individual needs, preferences, and fitness level, it will likely differ significantly from that of another survivor. This plan is designed to help you feel better and support your recovery after cancer treatment.

Success Rate of Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy stands as a pivotal contributor to global cancer cures, accounting for 40% of all successes while significantly enhancing the quality of life for many individuals. Notably, external-beam radiotherapy emerges as a highly successful treatment for prostate cancer, as evidenced by a cure rate of 95.5% for intermediate-risk cases and 91.3% for high-risk cases. The 5-year survival rate of 98.8% underscores the overall efficacy of this approach. Research from the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology in 2015 confirms the superiority of external-beam radiation therapy, with results comparable to or surpassing other common treatments like surgery or brachytherapy. 

In various cancers, including breast, bowel, uterine, skin, and prostate cancer, this therapy proves highly effective in reducing the risk of recurrence when administered before or after surgery. Moreover, for specific cancers such as prostate, head and neck, bladder, lung, cervix, and skin cancers, radiotherapy, either alone or in combination with drug therapy, serves as a primary curative treatment, offering an alternative to surgical risks and organ removal. 

Even in cases where cure is not possible, radiotherapy can be effective in relieving pain and addressing cancer-related issues, such as bleeding. However, technological advancements in recent years have further improved the lives of cancer patients by making radiation treatments quicker, more precise, and highly effective.

Treatment Cost Analysis & Comparison for Radiation Therapy

The cost of Radiation Therapy in India is quite affordable than many Western nations, while still maintaining world-class quality. The approximate price of this procedure in India ranges from ₹ 60,000 ($772) to ₹ 2,25,000 ($2895).

Location

Minimum Cost (₹)

Average Cost (₹)

Maximum Cost (₹)

Delhi

$6533

$15129

$30259

Mumbai

$6773

$15684

$31370

Chennai

$5874

$13602

$27206

Hyderabad

$5694

$13186

$26373

Factors Affecting Cost of Radiation Therapy

Following are the factors affecting cost of Radiation Therapy in India:

  • Out of pocket expense
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Consultation fees
  • Pre-procedural expenses
  • Type and severity of cancer
  • Procedural cost 
  • Hospital fees
  • Doctor fees
  • Patient’s age 
  • Type of procedure
  • Overall health status of the patients
  • Complications involved after the procedure
  • City where hospital is located

Cost of Diagnostics for Radiation Therapy

The cost for diagnostic tests and evaluations linked to radiation therapy can fluctuate due to several factors. These factors include the particular tests needed, your choice of healthcare facility or clinic, and your geographical location. The following is the approximate diagnostic cost split for this treatment: 

Diagnostic Procedure Cost
Biopsy USD 429 to USD 500
Endoscopy USD 19 to USD 386
X-Ray USD 10 to USD 25
PET Scan USD 193 to USD 800
Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) of the lymph nodes USD 10 to USD 32
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan USD 26- USD 321
Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan USD 26 to USD 400

 

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  • The road to a successful radiation therapy is long and challenging, full of hope, resilience, and the promise of a brighter future. With MedFlick as your guide, navigating this life-changing adventure becomes simple and liberating.

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Frequently asked questions

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