Actress Claudia Jimenez died Saturday (20) at the age of 63 in Rio de Janeiro. The family did not authorize the release of the cause of death. Despite this, some health problems emerged for the actress who discovered cancer in the mediastinum in 1986.
The mediastinum is the space between the lungs that contains structures such as the trachea, heart, esophagus, thymus, and part of the nervous and lymphatic systems.
At that time, Jimenez was abandoned, but he managed to recover from the disease. However, she has had three surgeries due to the effects of the radiotherapy, which may have affected her heart tissue. The first was in 1999, when he performed five side grafts. The second, in 2012, to replace the aortic valve with an artificial valve. The third and final, in 2014, to put a pacemaker.
Does radiation therapy carry a lot of risks?
Not right. Just remember that the actress’ cancer was discovered 36 years ago, and since then radiotherapy has evolved a lot. Radiation therapy is one of the pillars of cancer treatment and has a well-established role in several scenarios.
It can be used as a single treatment, in some tumors, with a curative intent. It can also be used with a new structure, that is, a previous treatment performed before the treatment that is considered the most important.
There is also radiotherapy classified as adjuvant, which usually occurs after a surgical procedure. There are also indications for palliative treatment, when there is no possibility of a cure, but rather to control the symptoms of the cancer in question.
According to Gustavo Nader Marta, radiation oncologist and vice president of SBRT (Brazilian Society of Radiotherapy) and head of the radiotherapy service at Serio Lebanon Hospital (SP), 60% of cancer patients will need radiotherapy at some point.
Nader Marta explains that radiotherapy, as its name suggests, is a treatment with ionizing radiation. “This radiation arrives as if it is a high-energy x-ray and it will reach the area where the tumor is and it will interact in the tumor microenvironment. Even in the DNA of the cancer cells, finally, these cells lead to death, so it is a treatment that causes the death of the cancer cells,” As a radiation oncologist explains.
The doctor assumes that Claudia Jimenez most likely received the so-called two-dimensional, or conventional, radiotherapy, which was available at the time, since there was no precision of what was happening in the body as to what dose would actually be. In the tumor area and surrounding healthy organs.
Nader Marta says that about 15 years ago, radiation therapy evolved into a 3-D technology, which uses more sophisticated methods of treatment planning.
“Computed tomography is used in the general planning system and in treatment goals. In other words, the area that needs to receive radiation to control the tumor is determined in advance, and we are also able to determine the amount of radiation dose to which the surrounding healthy structures receive “explains the doctor from Syria Lebanese Hospital.
“There is a very important definition in our clinical practice called limitations, which is nothing more than measurements of the dose received by each of the healthy structures by which there will be a greater risk of developing side effects in the short or long term,” he adds.
Is it just the radio fault?
Nader Marta assures that simply blaming the actress for radiation therapy is not correct, because several factors can cause heart problems.
“Yes it is [a radioterapia] It can cause it, but there are many other associated things that run parallel to this situation, for example people’s habits, obesity, smoking and even underlying coronary artery disease that can predispose the patient to cardiac events,” he says.
The doctor also notes that he does not know details of how the actress was treated and whether she underwent chemotherapy for example, since there are many chemotherapy drugs that cause significant cardiotoxicity.
The side effects and risks of radiotherapy, if any, are cumulative, meaning that they develop over the course of treatment as the radiation builds up in the tumor. It can be mild or severe, depending on the size and location of the tumor, the patient’s general medical condition, and the duration of each treatment. Two of the most common side effects are skin irritation or damage near the treatment site and fatigue.
The possible effects will be estimated with respect to the dose of radiation, in addition, there are nowadays tools that are used before and during the reception of radiation to ensure the accuracy and accuracy of treatment.
One of the pillars of oncology treatment is surgery, according to Antonio Pomvim Rocha, an oncologist, member of the Thoracic Committee of SBCO (Brazilian Society of Surgical Oncology) and Thoracic Surgery at Porto Dias Hospital in Belém: “It goes through all the stages of a cancer patient’s treatment, from Diagnosis (to take a biopsy for example) to complete removal of the tumor, the so-called radical curative treatment. “
Major chest tumors occur in the lung and mediastinum, in the case of Claudia Jimenez. “When we’re talking about the mediastinum, we’re talking about a few dozen tumors with different treatments,” Rocha explains.
According to the Cleveland Clinic (USA), mediastinal tumors are rare and usually diagnosed in patients between 30 and 50 years of age, but they can develop at any age and form from any tissue found in or passing through the chest cavity. A tumor in the mediastinum can also be a metastasis from a tumor arising in the lung, esophagus, breast, thyroid, or kidney.
The location of tumors in the mediastinum varies with the age of the patient. In children, tumors are most commonly located in the posterior (posterior) mediastinum. These mediastinal tumors usually start in the nerves and are usually noncancerous. In adults, most mediastinal tumors occur in the anterior (anterior) mediastinum and are usually malignant (cancerous) or thymoma tumors.
According to the Inca Institute (National Cancer Institute), in terms of deaths, lung cancer is the first among men and the second among women, according to global estimates for 2020, which indicated the occurrence of 2.12 million new cases, by 1.35 million in men. and 770,000 women.
The oncologist stresses the importance of examining chest tumors: “These tumors, whether in the lung or the mediastinum, do not cause symptoms in the initial stages, as they are treated. You can only get a diagnosis with screening and prevention tests, which is a CT scan of the chest. Therefore, if you are over 50 years old, smoke or smoke, it is exciting to see a doctor and do screening tests, lest you find out [um tumor] It’s at an advanced stage, and it has a lower chance of recovery.”
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