Cancer is a beatable disease. Through science, technology, and rigorous studies on how to beat cancer, the world has now come up with several effective cancer treatments. One of them is brachytherapy in Singapore.
Any medical treatment, procedures, and medications have side effects, and brachytherapy is not an exception. Nevertheless, these side effects are highly manageable. Through preparation and aftercare, you can mitigate the side effects ofbrachytherapy in Singapore.
A Brief Introduction To Brachytherapy in Singapore
What is brachytherapy?
Brachytherapyis a type of internal radiation therapy that uses radioactive implants, such as seeds, capsules, pellets, or wire, to be put inside the body near the tumour, using a needle or catheter.
The radiation the implants emit kills off the cancer cells in the nearby area by breaking down their DNA and preventing them from multiplying.
Cancer patients use combinations of brachytherapy and other cancer treatments to fight the disease.
The implants in the body can be permanent or temporary. They lose their radioactivity over time. Your radiation doctor will decide whether to take out the implant or not.
What are the cancers that use brachytherapy?
Brachytherapy can be used and included for the following cancer treatments:
- Breast cancer
- Brain cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Endometrial (uterine) cancer
- Eye cancer
- Head and neck cancers
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Skin cancer
- Vaginal cancer
As mentioned, brachytherapy can be a solo cancer treatment or be combined with others. For example, breast cancer treatment in Singapore may consist of brachytherapy and surgery. The treatment plan depends on the cancer assessment of your doctor. Usually, the type of cancer and cancer stage influence your treatment plan.
What are the types of brachytherapy?
Low-dose rate (LDR) implants
The radioactive implants will stay in your body for one week.
High-dose rate (HDR) implants
The radioactive implants will only remain in your body for more or less 10 minutes; they will be taken out after. However, it will be repeated twice a day for five days or once a week for five weeks. The treatment plan depends on the doctor’s assessment.
The radioactive implants will remain in your body permanently; however, the implant loses its radiation over time.
What are the side effects of brachytherapy?
Likecervical cancer treatment in Singapore, brachytherapy has long-term and short-term side effects on the body.
Short-term side effects:
● Skin problems
Patients receivingbrachytherapy in Singapore may experience several skin problems, such as sores, redness, and dryness.
It is common for cancer patients to feel physically weak and exhausted after brachytherapy.
● Bowel movement problems
Cancer patients receiving brachytherapy near their digestive system may experience diarrhea, stomach cramps and gas, bloating, constipation, faecal incontinence, bleeding, and bloody stool.
● Bladder problems
Cancer patients receiving brachytherapy for prostate cancer may suffer from bladder inflammation, pain when passing urine, urinary incontinence, and bloody urine.
Long-term side effects:
- Frequent bowel and bladder issues
- Early menopause
- Bone problems
- Vaginal changes and erectile dysfunction (impotence)
- Nerve damage
- Rarely, second cancer
The location of side effects depends on the site of cancer.
Now that you know the procedures that take place during brachytherapy in Singapore and the side effects, one question remains: how can you mitigate the side effects on your body? The following parts of this article will discuss the answers.
How To Prepare For Your Brachytherapy In Singapore
Avoid taking vitamins and herbal supplements
Cancer patients should stop taking vitamins and herbal supplements two weeks before their breast cancer treatment in Singapore. Although vitamins and supplements mean well to the body, they can counteract cancer treatments.
Herbal supplements containing ingredients, such as garlic, ginseng, and ginkgo, must be avoided.
Consult your doctor for vitamins and supplements you may be allowed to take.
Stop taking blood thinners
As much as possible, avoid taking blood thinners one week before your brachytherapy.
Blood thinners reduce blood clotting that can be a problem during brachytherapy.
Brachytherapy has minor side effects on the organs, such as hemorrhoidal type bleeding. Blood thinners aggravate this complication.
If you are in a blood thinner prescription, consult your doctor for prescription changes.
Avoid high-fibre diet
Days before your vaginal orcervical cancer treatment in Singapore, your doctor may advise switching to a low fibre diet. It was mentioned that side effects of brachytherapy include bowel issues, such as diarrhea, gas, and boating. High fibre food exacerbates these side effects.
If you are a smoker and habitual drinker, you might want to quit months before the treatment or permanently.
Apart from being linked to many types of cancers, such as prostate cancer, smoking counteracts the treatment, aggravating bladder issues.
On the other hand, alcohol is a known blood thinner. Drinking alcohol whilst receiving cancer medication may cause liver inflammation.
How To Take Care Of Yourself After Brachytherapy In Singapore
Monitor the short-term side effects
It is normal to experience short-term side effects after the treatment. These side effects are bloody urine and stool, fatigue, pain, skin irritation, and so on. Don’t panic. Monitor these side effects and if you think your side effects are not normal, such as excessive bleeding, contact your doctor immediately.
You may feel nauseous and exhausted after your breast cancer treatment in Singapore. As much as possible, avoid vigorous exercises and household chores for a week. Take a break from sexual activity in the meantime.
When experiencing skin irritation, gently wash the affected area with a clean, damp cloth. Avoid soaking or put it under running water. Never shave or wax your skin. Avoid harsh and scented creams and lotion, but gentle moisturiser can be allowed.
You can use ice wrapped in a clean towel to reduce the pain.
Your doctor may likely prescribe medications to manage your pain after your cervical cancer treatment in Singapore. Take them as prescribed.
Cancer is beatable, especially withbrachytherapy in Singapore. You can increase the success rate of the treatment if you know the side effects you need to watch out for and how you can condition your body before and after the treatment.
Dr Johann Tang – Radiation Oncologist Singapore
Dr Johann Tang provides cancer treatments such as radiotherapy andbrachytherapy in Singapore. Visit Dr Johann Tang – Radiation Oncologist Singapore today.