Did the title shock you? ‘Coz It did when I heard it first. I was pursuing my residency in Radiation Oncology in the Government medical college at Kanpur, where cancer patients would come in droves to get treated by what they not so lovingly called – “shock” or “bijli” or “current” or “sikaai”. I get to hear these terminologies even now, in the corporate settings, on and off. Sometimes it is difficult to convince my patients that I might not be interested at all in electrocuting them and that Radiation therapy is something else all together.

By the way, I am Dr Nisha Vishnu, a Consultant, Radiation Oncologist practicing at Fortis Hospital, BG road and MACS clinic, Jaya Nagar, Bengaluru, India. Clinical practice in a lesser known (but extremely important) branch has its own challenges. And number one of those is the gross misconceptions surrounding the ways of treatment. So much so that some opt not to take a treatment post surgery and abandon the chances of getting cured completely. This blog is a sincere effort from my end to help increase awareness about Radiotherapy so that decisions are made on the basis of information and facts rather than fear and misconceptions.

So what is Radiation therapy or Radiotherapy? Its nothing but killing of cancer cells using very powerful X-rays (or other similar rays). I am sure you might have come across the need for an X-ray, either for you or your friend or a family member. Wasn’t it quick, easy, painless and uncomplicated? For radiotherapy we convert our very own kilovolt X-rays into megavolt X-rays so that the very X-rays which passed through the body without much hurt gets a killing capacity. We focus the beams, using advanced techniques, in such a way that the entirety of the beams falls on the intended treatment area while the normal areas in and around receives minimal X-rays and hence minimal damage. Like chest X-ray, radiation too is quick, easy, painless and not so complicated (atleast for the patient undergoing the treatment). Let alone the ‘shock’ of a ‘current’, patients do not even feel anything during the treatment other than the noise of the machine (the machine generating these powerful rays, we call them linear accelerators) whirling around.

So this is radiation therapy in a chestnut for you. Hope you enjoyed and hope you would come back for more. Please put in your questions and queries, so that I write better and write more on topics that you care about. Cheers !!