Radiation therapy is used to destroy cancer cells. It may be used by itself or in combination with cancer-fighting medicines or surgery. For example, radiation may be used to shrink a tumor before surgery so that it can be removed more easily, or it can be used after surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells.
The goal of cancer radiation treatment is to target specific tumors with the exact amount of radiation required, while minimizing damage to normal, healthy tissue.
What to Expect on Your First Visit
Your physician will need to refer you for treatment. On your first visit, you will meet the radiation oncologist, who will discuss in detail the entire treatment plan: diagnosis, staging and treatment. It is important that we have your medical records pathology reports and imaging studies available for review at this time.
Remember at this time to tell us if you are pregnant or if you are using a pacemaker, an implanted defibrillator or other electronic equipment.
Take time to write down information during this appointment so that you can refer back to it later. A personal medical journal can help you keep track of:
- Symptoms and side effects
- Lab-test results
What to Expect on Your Second Visit
Treatment simulation and the planning process will begin on the second visit. It will last approximately one hour, during which technicians will simulate the actual treatment, take measurements of your body contours and tailor your radiation shielding. Marks that will be used to guide treatment will be placed on your skin at this time, and we request to not wash them off until advised to do so by our staff.
Normally, treatment begins within five days of simulation; however, urgent radiation treatment can be started on the first visit.
What to Expect on Your Next Visits
You will receive radiation daily, Monday through Friday, for several weeks. The actual treatment takes only about 15 minutes. Our oncology nurse will help you understand the side effects and how your lifestyle may be affected.
No pain or sensation is felt during radiation therapy, and you will not be radioactive as a result of treatment.
We know dealing with cancer can create anxiety and stress. Our staff strives to help the patient keep a positive and determined attitude during the treatment process. Patients are encouraged to ask questions. If you need additional assistance, our staff can help with:
- Patient education
- Diet counseling
- Spiritual guidance
- Home health services
- Social services
- Support groups