Radiation therapy is the treatment of disease using high-energy X-rays. Radiation therapy is often used in the treatment of cancer. Other cancer treatments include chemotherapy and surgery. These treatments can be used singly or together. The decision about which treatments to use is individually based on each patient's situation.
Prior to receiving radiation therapy, the patient will have a planning appointment called a simulation. During this appointment, the radiation oncologist and radiation therapist will perform the necessary tests that will allow them to shape the radiation beam to the patient’s body and to the size and shape of the tumor. This customized shaping helps protect healthy tissue surrounding the cancer. The patient may receive small permanent ink spots to help position future treatments.
The radiation oncologist will determine the number and duration of radiation treatments. After reviewing the patient’s medical history, the radiation oncologist will discuss proposed treatments, including potential risks and benefits. Generally, treatments last from 10-20 minutes and are given daily, Monday through Friday. They are given over a period of time that may last from a few days to many weeks.
Some patients experience side effects from radiation therapy. Side effects depend on the area of the body being treated. We have effective treatments for most side effects. Many patients are able to continue their normal day-to-day activities.