What are the advantages of radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy can be used for treating cancers located in any part of the body. It has the advantage of being a localized treatment useful in the management of cancers that cannot be treated successfully by surgery or chemotherapy alone. Also, this therapy can reduce the size of a tumor so it can be safely removed.

How long is a typical radiation therapy session?

You can usually expect to be on the therapy table for about 15 to 20 minutes. Additional time may be needed if it is necessary to reposition the treatment area. Complex treatments such as stereotactic radiosurgery or stereotactic body radiotherapy may take longer than conventional radiotherapy treatments.

Is radiation therapy painful?

No. However, if you have a physical condition, such as a back problem, lying in position on the therapy table may cause you to experience some discomfort.

Will I lose my hair?

Radiation therapy does not cause hair loss unless it is aimed at a part of the body that grows hair, such as the scalp.

Can I drive and continue my other normal daily activities immediately after having a treatment?

Yes, in most cases. The majority of patients continue to work and drive throughout their treatment regimen.

Can I be around my children and grandchildren during my radiation therapy regimen?

Yes. There is no danger or restrictions to being around your family. The majority of patients on radiation therapy receive external radiation and are not radioactive after therapy.  If you are receiving a brachytherapy implant that requires additional safety measures you will be provided with radiation safety instructions.

What side effects should I expect from radiation therapy?

Every patient is different, and it depends on the radiation site. The most common side effects are fatigue and skin changes, which can result from radiation exposure to any treatment site. Other side effects are related to treatment of specific areas, and your doctor will discuss these with you.

What will my treatment schedule be?

You will have daily treatments on weekdays until completion of the treatment plan, anywhere from 1 to 9 weeks, depending on the treatment site. Treatments usually last about 10 to 20 minutes.

What is stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)?

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is not surgery, but rather, an intense form of radiation therapy that obliterates the treatment target. It uses an external radiation source such as a linear accelerator (linac) to deliver many small beams of radiation directly to the target site in a single fraction. One example target is a brain tumor. Because of the technology’s extreme precision, adjacent structures are not affected.