There are two different types of radiation therapy used in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) uses external radiation beams directed at the affected area to kill the cancer cells. Precise angles need to be calculated prior to treatment and this often takes longer than the actual radiation treatment, with patients needing to be completely still during the process. This type of radiation therapy usually occurs for five days a week over several weeks.
A more modern form of radiation therapy is intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). IMRT is a 3-D type of treatment where a computer guides the radiation beams around the body and alters the intensity of the beam to minimize damage to nearby healthy tissue.
The side effects of radiation therapy include extreme fatigue and a burning sensation on the skin. The side effects get worse the longer the treatment goes on but subsides afterward. The side effects are often much worse if radiation therapy is combined with chemotherapy.