Understanding Radiation Therapy in India: Costs, Benefits, Procedures, and Side Effects

Understanding Radiation Therapy in India: Costs, Benefits, Procedures, and Side Effects

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What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy is also called radiotherapy, X-ray therapy, and irradiation. The cells in the body develop and grow normally, however, cancer cells mutate, divide, and grow faster than normal cells. Radiation works by making tiny breaks in the DNA inside the cancer cells. The cell’s mechanism is disturbed and it cannot grow and divide further, and die. Normal cells can be damaged in this process but recover afterward and resume their mechanism. The radioactive substances can be given by mouth or veins. The substances travel in the entire body and collect in the tumor area.

There are a few types of radiation therapy internal radiation therapy, external beam radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), proton therapy, volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), 2D conventional technique (2D CT), gamma knife, etc.

How is Radiation Therapy performed?

>>Before

For internal radiation therapy, one may require imaging tests and a physical exam. For external radiation therapy (EBRT), it requires a planning procedure called a simulation (for customizing one’s treatment).

Simulation involves:

  • During the surgical procedure, this type of external radiation goes directly to the tumor location or sites. When surgery is unable to remove the tumor, it might be used in conditions when there is a significant chance of recurrence.
  • A CT scan or an MRI scan is done to know the exact location of the tumor. This helps in customizing X-rays for targeting the tumor.

>>During

  • For outpatient treatment, internal radiation therapy is usually given in a hospital or specially designed chamber. Catheterization is the term for the flexible tube used to insert the radiation implant. Anesthesia is required for this treatment. Through an IV, the radioactive fluid is administered.
  • In EBRT, the patient is positioned during a simulation. The machine is moved around the patient but never touches them. The operator is in a separate room and communication between the patient and them takes place through an intercom. The appropriate doses are delivered to the tumor.

>>After

  • In internal radiation therapy, one can go home on the same day after a short recovery time. Sometimes, a patient needs to stay in the hospital as they still emit little amounts of radiation from their bodies. After IV radiation, small amounts of radiation may be secreted through sweat, blood, and urine. Others are at risk of exposure.
  • In EBRT, the patient can go home and carry out their regular activities. There is never a risk of radiation exposure to others.

Risks and Complications of Radiation Therapy

There are different treatment sessions so a patient does not receive the entire dose at once so that the healthy tissues can recover between sessions.

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itchy skin and scalp
  • Hair loss from the area that is being treated
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Pain during swallowing
  • A burning sense in the chest or throat
  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Frequent urination in small quantities
  • Cramps or bloating in the abdomen
  • Sense of urgency for bowel movements

Benefits of Radiation Therapy

  • It may help in controlling the growth of cancer
  • For a small number of patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer and borderline resectable cancer
  • Each session is usually for a short duration so a hospital is not required
  • If a person has advanced-stage cancer, it can help in relieving pain and control symptoms.
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Cost and Types of Radiation Therapy in India

The radiation therapy cost in India starts from USD 5000 to USD 28000 depending on the type of radiation technique utilized and the stage of cancer.

Radiation Therapy Types Cost in USD
External Beam Radiation Therapy 3,000 – 5,000
Internal Radiation Therapy 2,500 – 6,000

1. External Beam Radiation Therapy: It is the major kind of radiation therapy done for cancer treatment. In this, high-energy particles or rays are aimed at the tumor through a machine placed outside the body. The beams are given from outside the body which affects the cancer region but may affect some healthy tissues as well. It is most commonly done as an outpatient treatment. It is generally given 5 days a week but some patients may get it twice a week for several weeks. 

  • 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT): It delivers the beams from various directions based on the size and shape of the tumor. This is done to reduce the damage caused by radiation to the normal surrounding tissues and destroy the cancer cells effectively.
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): It is similar to 3D-CRT, but the strength (intensity) of the beam varies in specific regions. This helps in lessening the damage caused to the nearby cells and tissues. It costs USD 2,173-7,000.
  • Helical Tomography: It is a kind of IMRT that delivers in a specific way. In this, the radiation is delivered through small beams from various angles of the body. This is done to make the radiation more cancer-area specific.
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS): In this, large doses of radiation are given to a small tumor region, generally in one session. It is used for brain or other tumors. After determining the precise location of the tumor in the brain, radiation beams are aimed at the region from various angles to cause prevent surrounding tissue damage. There is no cutting involved and hence, it is not called surgery. When this kind of treatment is done for other organs like the liver, spine, prostate, lung, and others, this is called Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT).
  • Gamma Knife: In this, approximately 200 small radiation beams in a single time that creating a very large dose. It is generally a single session. It is not a surgical procedure. It costs USD 6,400-7,000.
  • Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT): Scans like MRI or CT are done prior to every treatment session. The tumor may move and not be in the same place as before like in the previous treatment. By using IGRT, the doctor can change the position of the patient or the aim of the beam wherever it is needed to make sure that the beam is focused on the cancer region effectively, and there is very little damage to nearby healthy tissues. It costs USD 5,000-7,000.
  • MRI-Guided Radiation Therapy: It is also called MRI-guided adaptive radiation therapy, and combines a few features of SBRT, IGRT, and IMRT. The machine is called MRI-linac, in which a linear accelerator and an MRI scanner are combined. In this, MRI can be done before the treatment is given or while the treatment is in progress. If activities of the body like digestion or breathing move the tumor out of its original place, the radiation stops until it is directly in the path of the beam. This prevents healthy tissue damage.
  • Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT): During the surgical procedure, this type of external radiation goes directly to the tumor location or sites. When surgery is unable to remove the tumor, it might be used in conditions when there is a significant chance of recurrence.
  • Proton beam radiation therapy: The beams consist of protons and not x-rays on the tumors. Protons only travel to a distance, unlike the photons that go through the body to expose the tissues to the beam both after and before they hit the tumor area. The tissue surrounding the before and after the tumor is exposed to very little radiation. It costs USD 14,490-28,819.

2. Internal Radiation Therapy: It is also called brachytherapy. An implant that is radioactive is put inside the body or near the tumor-affected area. The implant placement is a painless procedure. In this, a higher dose of radiation is administered in the smaller region. There are a variety of implants like wires, ribbons, pellets, capsules, tubes, seeds, or tubes that can be used. This is done to reduce the damage caused by radiation to normal cells.

  • High-dose-rate brachytherapy (HDR): In this, a patient is put under a powerful radiation source for several minutes at a time. The radiation source is removed after ten to twenty minutes. It may be repeated twice a day over a period of a few days, or once a day over a period of a few weeks. The radioactive substance is not in the body anymore. The applicator may be left in its place or maybe put before every treatment.
  • Low-dose-rate brachytherapy (LDR): In this, the implant emanates lower doses of radiation over a longer period of time. The implant may be left in place for a day to a few days and then removed. Some smaller-sized implants like pellets or seeds are left in their place and may never be removed. Patients may have to stay in the hospital for some time as their body gives off radiation for a few days.

NOTE: External beam radiation is given to kill cancer cells in a larger area in the tumor region, while internal radiation therapy delivers a boost or a higher dosage of radiation to destroy the major mass of tumor cells.

Factors Affecting Radiation Therapy Costs in India

  • The extent of cancer: Cost depends on the stage of cancer. If it has spread to other organs, then the dosage required will be higher, and hence, the cost of treatment increases.
  • Treatment method: The cost of EBRT varies from internal radiation therapy. In EBRT, X-rays are used while internal radiation therapy is a more sensitive procedure that involves implant placement. Also, the kind of EBRT used affects the cost.
  • Anesthesia charger: If anesthesia is used in the procedure, then the cost may be higher. Also, radiation procedures involving anesthesia are costlier in hospitals than in a doctor’s office.
  • Secondary procedures: Cancer treatment may require some additional secondary treatments for any other related conditions. The cost may be affected by this.
  • The number of sessions: Generally, advanced-stage cancer patients need multiple radiation sessions. This is required because all of the cancer cells cannot be destroyed in one session, and also, when the patient cannot bear higher doses of radiation.
  • Required dosage: Higher doses of radiation cost more than lower doses.
  • Type of hospital: The cost of radiation therapy is less in government hospitals than in private hospitals.
  • Duration of hospital days: Sometimes radiotherapy may be accompanied by chemotherapy or a secondary procedure, then an overnight stay in the hospital is required. This impacts the radiation cost directly.

Success Rate of Radiation Therapy in India

It has a success rate of 90-80% in the first and second stages of cancer. It takes about a few weeks to 2 months to recover from the side effects of radiation therapy. It can be given before or after the surgery depending upon the requirement. Sometimes surgery cannot be performed in advanced stages or the tumor may be located in such a location that it is impossible to reach through surgery, here radiation can prove to be useful. At advanced stages, radiation therapy can shrink the tumors and relieve the symptoms.

Who Performs Radiation Therapy?

A clinical oncologist works in a team of multi-disciplinary health professionals who are specialists in providing cancer treatment and care. The team may include:

  • A medical oncologist
  • Therapeutic radiographers (plan and deliver radiotherapy)
  • Radiologists (Healthcare professionals who take X-rays and other scans)
  • Pathologists (Healthcare professionals who observe body tissue for diagnosing the illness)
  • Physiotherapists
  • Language and speech therapists

Specialists in radiation science: The medical team that plans and prescribes a patient’s radiotherapy work along with medical physicists and specialist scientists. Medical physicists advise the right amount of radiation dose, the duration of the treatment, and the right equipment that is safe and accurate.

Therapeutic radiographers: These professionals operate the equipment that provides the treatment. They are trained in patient care and radiotherapy and work closely with physicists and oncologists for planning a patient’s treatment. They advise on side effects and coping with the treatment.

Nursing staff: Nursing staff may be present in the radiotherapy facility to look after general needs like medicines, dressings, and side effect management.

Top Hospitals For Availing Radiation Therapy in India

>>Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad

Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad

Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre have been accredited with NABL and NABH credentials. It has a 500-bed capacity and 65 ICU beds. Special oncology centers for all kinds of cancer have been a recent addition. It has technologies like 500 MA X-Ray, 128 Slice CT scans, Mammography facilities, 1.5 Tesla MRI, Cancer Centres, etc.

ENQUIRE NOW

>>Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Delhi

Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Delhi

Apollo Spectra Hospitals has been accredited with JCI. It has a 50-plus bed capacity across different locations in Delhi. It provides services like health checkups, radiology, consultation, rehabilitation, and physiotherapy. It has a world-class infrastructure and 5 modular operation theaters.

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>>Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad

Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad

Yashoda Hospital has been accredited with NABL and FICCI credentials. It has 1710 bed capacity across 3 of its own hospitals and 3 cancer institutes. It houses high-tech labs and modular operation theaters, Digital X-Rays, Ultrasonography, CT 64 Slices MRI, etc.

ENQUIRE NOW

>>Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali

Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali

Max Super Speciality Hospital has been accredited with NABH and NABL credentials. It has a 370-plus capacity and 15-plus specialties. 14 high-end modular operation theatres, 3D (4D) imaging, 3.0 Tesla digital boundaries MRI, Da Vinci Xi Robotic System, etc.

ENQUIRE NOW

>>Apollo Hospitals Bannerghatta, Bangalore

Apollo Hospitals Bannerghatta, Bangalore

Apollo Hospital has been accredited with NABH and JCI credentials. It has a 250-bed capacity. It also houses The Minimal Access Surgery Centre (MASC) center of excellence. It has technologies like 120-slice CT angiogram, 3 Tesla MRI, Digital Fluoroscopy, 4-D Ultrasound for 4-dimensional sonography, Gamma Camera, etc.

ENQUIRE NOW

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Top Radiation Oncologist in India

1. Dr. Gagan Saini
Radiation Oncologist, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali
Experience: 19 years

 

Dr. Gagan Saini | Best Radiation Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS | MD | DNB

  • He is a member of ASTRO, ESMO, ISIORT, ASCO, AROI, and ESTRO
  • He has been certified by IGRT and a fellowship from 4DCT Montefiore Cancer Centre, New York
  • He has successfully treated symptoms like skin changes, sores, lumps, changes in bowel habits, persistent cough, breathing trouble, fatigue, weight changes, etc.

2. Dr. Anil Thakwani
Radiation Oncologist, Sharda Hospital, Noida
Experience: 22 years

 

Dr. Anil Thakwani | Best Radiation Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS | MD

  • He is a member of MCI and has been certified by NUTAS and FCCS
  • He has performed procedures like gamma knife radiosurgery, proton therapy, intensity-modulated radiotherapy, stereotactic radiotherapy, and brachytherapy
  • He has successfully treated symptoms like fatigue, lump, weight changes, sores, skin changes, tumor, changes in bowel habits, etc.

3. Dr. Lijiya Pushpan
Radiation Oncologist, Aster Medcity, Kochi
Experience: 15 years

 

Dr. Lijiya Pushpan | Best Radiation Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS | DNB

  • She is a member of AROI, IMA, and SASCRO
  • She has performed procedures like stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
  • She has effectively treated symptoms like a persistent cough, breathing troubles, thickening or lumps, redness or darkening of the skin, sores, fatigue, etc.

4. Dr. Shikha Halder
Radiation Oncologist, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi
Experience: 25 years

 

Dr. Shikha Halder | Best Radiation Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS | MD

  • She is a member of IMA and AROI
  • She has treated symptoms like changes in bowel habits, tumor, fatigue, changing moles, weight changes, lumps, etc.
  • She has successfully treated diseases like cervical cancer, lung cancer, kidney tumors, breast cancer, spine tumors, brain cancer, liver cancer, etc.

5. Dr. P Venkata Sushma
Radiation Oncologist, Star Hospitals, Hyderabad
Experience: 10 years

 

Dr. P Venkata Sushma | Best Radiation Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS | MD

  • She is a member of NIOC and has 10 research publications in national and international oncology journals
  • She has performed procedures like intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT)
  • She has treated diseases like lung tumors, abnormalities in the brain, spine tumors, thyroid cancer, uterine cancer, vascular malformations, cervical cancer, etc

Recommended Reads:

Proton Therapy: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Immunotherapy: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) : Symptoms, Classification,

Diagnosis & Recovery

Abdominoperineal Resection: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Brachytherapy: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

 

>>Frequently Asked Questions

Before going to a hospital for radiation therapy, one should consider factors like accreditation of the hospital, location, diagnostic services offered, intensive care units, post-operative care services, type of hospital (government or private), etc.

Before choosing the best oncologist for stomach cancer treatment, one should consider the factors like confirming the doctor’s credentials, considering the experience of the doctor, asking for referrals from the doctor who provides primary care, evaluating the communication style of the oncologist, a search on patient feedback, and the quality of the hospital.

Radiation therapy costs USD 6083 to USD 24335 in India. It depends on the stage of the cancer and the dosage of radiation.

  • Renowned hospitals: Hospitals in India are equipped with modern infrastructure and the latest technology for minor and major surgeries. Specialized intensive care units and departments are available for the patients.
  • Exceptional medical professionals: The surgeons, doctors, and nurses are highly skilled and have an extensive level of expertise. The doctors discuss the procedure, risks, and benefits of radiation therapy.
  • Affordable cost: The cost of treatment, medication, post-operative care, transportation, etc. are affordable compared to other countries. Medical procedure packages are also available that include visa,  hotel charges, flight charges, food, etc.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting clothes over the area of treatment.
  • Do not scratch or rub any sensitive regions or spots, and also avoid putting hot or cold pads or ice packs on these regions.
  • Creams, deodorants, perfumes, lotions, body oils, powders, home remedies, or ointments should be avoided on the treatment site during the process or for a few weeks after the treatment.
  • Avoiding coarse foods and spices like dry crackers, raw vegetables, nuts, etc.
  • Avoid consuming foods that have high salt content, fried foods, raw fish, etc.
  • Abstain from smoking, drinking alcohol, or chewing tobacco
  • Avoid consuming snacks that have sugar in them that promote the decaying of teeth
  • Avoid using commercial mouthwash as they cause dry mouth due to their alcohol content.
  • Keep distance from children, pregnant women, pets, etc. for some time as one’s body may emit some radiation.

Radiation therapy only causes hair loss from the area of treatment in the body. Hair loss can also occur in the area where the radiation beam exits from the body. The amount of loss of hair depends upon the type of radiation given, the size of the area, and the total dose of radiation being administered. Loss of hair can start one to three weeks after the treatment commences. This hair loss is not generally permanent, and the grows back often after the treatment. However, the color and texture of the hair can be altered.

Cancer might come back after the initial treatment. It can be due to the original treatment could not get rid of the cancer cells and grows into a new tumor or a few cancer cells have spread somewhere else in the body and initiated a new growth. Different cancers and their stages have different recurrence rates and sometimes, the cancer might not come back.

Moderate loss of weight is a common and normal side effect of cancer treatment. A rapid weight change (weight loss) is a cause of concern. This is termed as unintentional weight loss (losing 2 or more pounds in a week even after eating normally). One should focus on eating healthy and nutritious food and limiting foods such as salty and desserts. If a person loses weight during treatment, then it means they have to eat a more healthy diet.

It takes approximately 10 minutes for each radiation treatment to be completed. It is usually given 5 days a week for about 5-8 weeks.

References

Last modified on blank at May 31, 2024

Reviewed By :- Urvi Agrawal
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Guneet Bhatia

Guneet Bhatia is an avid reader, healthcare writer, and is currently Director of Patient Care Department, MediGence. She has also been featured on many prominent Healthcare portals such as IBTimes, HCIT Expert, Clinician Today.

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