Radiation Necrosis Treatment

Additional Information

Radiation therapy is highly effective at targeting cancer cells, but in rare cases, it can damage normal tissues. Mercy cancer specialists can effectively diagnose and treat this condition, helping those affected find relief.

What Is Radiation Necrosis?

When permanent cell damage is caused by radiation therapy, it’s called radiation necrosis (sometimes referred to as radionecrosis or osteoradionecrosis). Radiation injury to tissues can develop months or even years after cancer treatment, often at the tumor site. Radiation necrosis makes it hard for the body to build new tissue, fight infection and heal skin.

Thanks to today’s targeted radiation therapies and innovative imaging technologies, there’s less risk of radiation necrosis.

Types of Radiation Necrosis

  • Radiation soft-tissue Injury – Radiation can disrupt blood supply to soft tissue, causing it to break down.
  • Bony necrosis (osteoradionecrosis) – When blood supply to bones is restricted or cut off, they can become damaged.
  • Cerebral (brain) radiation necrosis – Radiation to the head and neck can sometimes damage sensitive brain tissue.

Radiation Necrosis Treatment Options

Several options are available to successfully treat radionecrosis, including:

  • Surgery – Necrotic tissue is surgically removed to help restore blood flow and promote healing.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen treatment – Pure oxygen is delivered throughout the body to support the healing process.
  • Corticosteroid drugs (or steroids) – These medications are used to reduce swelling and help control necrotic-tissue growth.
  • Anticoagulants (such as warfarin or heparin) – These drugs are used to help slow the buildup and spread of necrotic tissue.

Radiation necrosis is a rare but serious side effect of radiation therapy. Mercy has the expertise to detect and treat this condition, so you can live healthier after cancer treatment.   

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