Listed below are some of the more frequently asked questions by many patients. Any member of your healthcare team is available to help you find answers to further questions or concerns. Please feel free to ask.
- 1. How does radiation therapy work?
- A: Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells by directing a high-energy beam to the cancer site with minimal harm to the healthy cells. Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. Radiation does not affect cancer cells right away. It takes days or weeks of treatment before cancer cells deteriorate. Radiation continues to effect cancer cells after radiation treatments are complete. Radiation treatments are given daily, Monday-Friday, for a period of time prescribed by your doctor, the radiation oncologist.
- 2. Will I be able to drive to my radiation appointments?
- A: Most people can get to daily treatments without help. If you are not feeling well, you may need to ask a family member or friend to take you to your treatment. Let us know if you are having problems with transportation.
- 3. What happens if I miss a treatment?
- A: It is important that you receive your radiation treatments consistently, as scheduled. We strive to accommodate every patient's schedule preference to the best of our ability. If you need to miss a treatment you should call (413) 582-2107 (Radiation Therapy Department phone number) and ask to speak to the nurse, or the radiation oncologist to reschedule. Ultimately, you will receive the number of prescribed treatments required by your radiation oncologist.
- 4. Will I have side effects from radiation therapy?
- A: Yes, your nurse and radiation oncologist will discuss this with you individually. Radiation therapy is given to a specific area of the body. Both the cancer cells and other rapidly dividing cells in the area treated are affected. Healthy cells have the ability to recover over time while the cancer cells are permanently damaged. As a result, side effects may occur to the area of the body being treated. These side effects will be monitored and managed as needed by the radiation therapy team.
- 5. Will I be radioactive after I am treated?
- A: No, you will not be radioactive. There are no restrictions on contact with other people while you are getting your daily radiation.
- 6. Will I lose my hair?
- A: You may lose hair in the area of your body that is receiving the radiation (i.e. if you are receiving radiation therapy to your leg you will not lose the hair on your head due to the radiation.)
- 7. Will my skin be burned?
- A: Skin reactions are a common side effect of radiation therapy. Sometimes your skin may look and feel like sunburn in the area being treated. The radiation team will monitor these reactions closely.
- 8. Will I feel tired?
- A: You may get tired more easily and need to rest more often during your treatment. Your fatigue may continue for a few weeks after you treatment is over.
- 9. Will I be able to work during my treatments?
- A: Most people are able to continue their regular activities during their treatment. However, each person's situation is very different. You and your physician will be able to determine what is best for you.
- 10. Will I need blood work or x-rays during my course of treatment?
- A: The doctor may want you to have further blood work or x-rays during your treatment depending on you particular situation. For your convenience, a radiation therapy staff member will schedule these appointments for you as needed.
- 11. What other services are available to patients and families?
- A: The Cancer Care Program at Cooley Dickinson Hospital provides a team of professionals to help you deal with the physical, emotional, psychological, social, spiritual, educational, and financial concerns that you may have about your cancer diagnosis.
The following supportive services are available to all patients and families with a cancer diagnosis. Our services are free of charge.
- Supportive Counseling: Individual, Family, and Group
- Community educational programs about cancer-related topics
- Cancer screening clinics
- Educational programs for patients and families
At Cooley Dickinson Hospital, treating our families, friends, neighbors and community is our privilege. A cancer diagnosis may cause challenges for patients and their families and raise many questions. The most powerful tool one can have following a diagnosis of cancer is information. Information is important in helping you and your family cope with the emotional impact that a cancer diagnosis can bring. Let your doctor know if you or your loved ones are having a difficult time. Please feel free to contact us at any time.
|Mary Ellen Walsh
|Cancer Care Program Director
||Radiation Oncology Manager