Patient Guide Part #1: FAQ’s for Radiation Therapy Treatment of Pituitary Adenomas

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If radiation therapy has been advised to you for pituitary adenoma treatment, you have perhaps already reviewed and tried other kinds of medical therapy or surgery with poor outcomes. Remember, a tumor is a tissue mass, conventionally not normally present in the body. It can be cancerous. Pituitary adenomas are a kind of benign tumor with several subtypes. Radiation therapy can be a very effective treatment for both hormonally inactive and active pituitary adenoma treatment. The conclusion to use radiation therapy should be balanced with an understanding of its associated chances. Treatment suggestions are customized by specific kind of pituitary tumor, size, boundaries of the tumor if great, feedback to initial therapies and other patient health concerns. Compiled here are common questions raised by patients with pituitary adenomas concerning radiation surgery.

Q.What is radiation therapy?

A. Radiation therapy is the used for ionizing radiation to cure and manage cancerous tumors. Ionizing radiation is a form of high energy that can be controlled as beams to cure targets. It can effectively lower or stop excessive tumor increase or activity. The most general form of radiation therapy used is called photon beam. Photon beams can be either created from machines and are called X-rays or from normally radioactive materials and are referred to as gamma streak. The photon beams registered in radiation therapy are most X-rays and are alike to those used for chest X-rays but are of excessive energy.

Q.How does radiation work?

A. Ionizing radiation causes damage to the most actively developing cells. Abnormally growing cells will be continuously dying over a period of days to months after radiation therapy. Truly normal cells can regularly repair radiation damage.

Q.What type of radiation therapy is best for me? I have heard of terms such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), 3D conformal radiation therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).

A. It is a complex question and needs the training and expertise of your surgeon to choose the treatment shipment system that is best suited for you. All of these terms refer to radiation therapy for pituitary tumors. They all use photon radiation. Normally, there is more than one right choice.

Q.Does this treatment hurt?  Will I be sick?  What does it feel?

A. This treatment does not hurt. In fact, many people do not feel anything and cannot determine when the radiation beam is on. Others can either smell a scent explained as ozone or see colors while the radiation beam is on. There are no noticeable side effects immediately following the treatment. It is not known to make people feel sick.

Q.What are my daily restrictions if any?

A.There are no restrictions on your activity or diet.

Q.What are the common side effects while on radiation therapy?

A.While on treatment, you may see a little fatigue that slowly emerges over the weeks of treatment. At times, patches of hair loss and skin redness and dryness are encountered. These happen in the radiation beam paths. Much less common are nausea or headaches. Even less common are neurological indications like seizures.

Q.What are the risks of me going blind from radiation?

A.Possibilities are individualized so you should ask your radiation oncologist. Anyhow, for many people, this risk is very low because it is taken into careful consideration during the planning of your radiation therapy. It is one of the primary reasons why the usual 5-6 week course of radiation is chosen over the single dose of stereotactic radiosurgery. The nerves involved with vision can absorb a fair amount of radiation without the possibility of damage to their function.

Did the above Q/A’s help you understand a bit about Radiation Therapy Treatment for Pituitary Tumors? Follow our Blog and Stay tuned for the FAQ Part 2. You can also follow us on social media to get regular updates: 

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One thought on “Patient Guide Part #1: FAQ’s for Radiation Therapy Treatment of Pituitary Adenomas

  1. […] the previous article, we discussed the questions and answers about radiation therapy for pituitary tumors (adenomas). […]

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