What is radiation therapy treatment?
Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy x-rays or particles (called electrons). It works by killing tumor cells or inhibiting their growth and division. Through years of clinical trials, radiation oncologists have studied the use of radiation therapy to treat cancer. These studies have led to the widespread use of effective and well-tolerated doses of radiation therapy.
Where do I start?
You will first meet with a radiation oncologist to decide if radiation therapy is a recommended treatment option for your particular situation. If you and your physicians decide to proceed, then you will have an extended consultation in which you discuss the details of your treatment. This includes the exact area to treat, the amount of radiation you will receive, the length of treatment time and potential treatment side effects. The radiation oncologist will also answer any questions you may have. These issues vary for each patient, so it is important to make an individual treatment plan.
What can I expect from my treatment?
When you arrive, please check in at the Radiation Therapy front desk. Each treatment should only last 15 – 20 minutes. You can change your clothes in the dressing room or wear loose clothing that can be easily removed. During each treatment session, you will lay on a table while the therapist uses the tattoos on your skin to put you in correct position for treatment. It is important to be still while getting the radiation, although you should continue to breathe normally.
Prostate cancer patients – should show up for treatment with a semi-full bladder and an empty rectum.
What are the physical side effects of radiation treatment?
Receiving the radiation will not be painful. Side effects vary from person to person and depend on the site being treated. The most common side effects from radiation therapy are:
- Mild fatigue.
- Skin changes.
- Uncomfortable sensations in the treated area.
Please talk to your physician or nurse if you have concerns about side effects before you begin treatment or if you have questions about managing your side effects during treatment.
How often will I see my radiation oncologist during treatment?
You will meet with your radiation oncologist once a week, on Thursday, during your treatments. Should you have additional questions or concerns, simply ask to speak with your physician or nurse when necessary.
What emotional responses might I expect?
You may or may not experience anxiety or fear when you begin your treatment. Most people tell us that their concerns lessen as they adapt to the new environment and treatment. Please speak to the staff if you feel that you need either emotional or practical support. This may be a time when you think again about support groups or one-to-one consultation for the feelings that arise or to support your coping.