How does radiation therapy work?
Special machines send high energy x-rays or particles to the cancer cells. This damages the genetic material within the cells so they can no longer grow and spread. Once this happens, the cancer cells die and the body naturally removes them. Normal cells can also be affected by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves in a way that cancer cells cannot.
Does Radiotherapy hurt?
Radiation treatment does not hurt. You cannot see, smell, or feel the radiation while it’s being administered.
What are potential side effects of radiation?
The goal of radiation therapy is to destroy cancer cells, but radiation therapy can also injure or destroy normal cells. This can cause some side effects. The side effects depends on the area of treatment. Your nurse will explain any possible side effects before your treatment begins. Common examples of acute side effects from radiation therapy are
- Loss of appetite
- Skin irritation.
How long does a radiotherapy treatment take?
Each treatment type is different. Your radiation therapist will give you a rough estimate of how long each treatment will take at the beginning of your first session.
How often will I see my radiation oncologist while receiving radiation treatments?
You will see your radiation oncologists and nurse at least once a week to monitor your progress throughout treatment. You can see one of our nurses any day should you have an issue.
Am I radioactive after my treatment?
No, you are not radioactive after your treatments and you will be safe to be around people.
How long should I plan to be in the Department?
We aim to treat you as close to your scheduled time as possible. You should plan on being in the department for approximately one hour from your scheduled appointment time.
Will I lose my hair from radiotherapy?
Radiation usually affects just the area to which it is given. If your head is not being irradiated, you will not lose your hair.
What can I do to help myself during therapy?
Maintaining good nutrition is very important, though we recognize that this is a big challenge for some patients, especially those with certain types of cancer. Try to eat a well-balanced diet. Tell your physician nurse if you experience any significant weight loss or weight gain. We will check your weight weekly.
How many treatments will I be having?
The number of treatments will vary between individual patients and the various diseases being treated. Some patients receive only a single treatment, others as many as 45. The doctor will review the treatment objectives and goals, and discuss the number of treatments being planned for you.
How often are my treatments delivered?
Radiation treatments are usually delivered 5 days a week, Monday – Friday. In most instances, the treatment will be delivered once a day. However, there are instances where you may be asked to come for treatment twice a day.