Internal radiotherapy safety

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Radiation Therapy & Cancer

Cancer doctors usually treat cancer with radiation therapy, surgery or medications including chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and/or biologic therapy, either alone or in combination.

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If your cancer can be treated with radiation, you will be referred khổng lồ a radiation oncologist — a doctor who specializes in treating patients with radiation therapy. Your radiation oncologist will work with your primary doctor & other cancer specialists, such as surgeons và medical oncologists, lớn oversee your care. He or she will discuss the details of your cancer with you, the role of radiation therapy in your overall treatment plan và what to expect from your treatment.


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How Does Radiation Therapy Work / What is Radiotherapy?

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of various forms of radiation lớn safely và effectively treat cancer and other diseases. Radiation oncologists may use radiation to lớn cure cancer, khổng lồ control the growth of the cancer or to lớn relieve symptoms, such as pain. Radiation therapy works by damaging cells. Normal cells are able to lớn repair themselves, whereas cancer cells cannot. New techniques also allow doctors khổng lồ better target the radiation lớn protect healthy cells.

Sometimes radiation therapy is the only treatment a patient needs. At other times, it is only one part of a patient’s treatment. For example, prostate and larynx cancer are often treated with radiotherapy alone, while a woman with breast cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Radiation may also be used khổng lồ make your primary treatment more effective. For example, you can be treated with radiation therapy before surgery khổng lồ help shrink the cancer and allow less extensive surgery than would otherwise be needed; or you may be treated with radiation after surgery khổng lồ destroy small amounts of cancer that may have been left behind. A radiation oncologist may choose lớn use radiation therapy in a number of different ways. Sometimes the goal is lớn cure the cancer. In this case, radiation therapy may be used to:

Destroy tumors that have not spread to lớn other parts of your body.Reduce the risk that cancer will return after you undergo surgery or chemotherapy by killing small amounts of cancer that might remain.

Sometimes, the overall goal is lớn slow down the cancer as much as possible. In other cases, the goal is to reduce the symptoms caused by growing tumors and to improve your unique of life. When radiation therapy is administered for this purpose, it is called palliative care or palliation. In this instance, radiation may be used to:

Shrink tumors that are interfering with your quality of life, such as a lung tumor that is causing shortness of breath.Relieve pain by reducing the form size of your tumor.

It is important for you to discuss the goal of your treatment with your radiation oncologist.

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What are the Different Kinds of Radiation?

The goal of radiation therapy is to get enough radiation into the body toàn thân to kill the cancer cells while preventing damage to healthy tissue. There are several ways to bởi vì this. Depending on the location, kích thước and type of cancer, you may receive one or a combination of techniques. Your treatment team will help you khổng lồ decide which treatments are best for you. Radiation therapy can be delivered in two ways, externally & internally. During external beam radiation therapy, the radiation oncology team uses a machine lớn direct high-energy X-rays at the cancer. Internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, involves placing radioactive sources (for example, radioactive seeds) inside your body.

What is External Beam Radiation Therapy?

During external beam radiation therapy, a beam of radiation is directed through the skin to the cancer and the immediate surrounding area in order to destroy the main tumor và any nearby cancer cells. Lớn minimize side effects, the treatments are typically given five days a week, Monday through Friday, for a number of weeks. This allows doctors khổng lồ get enough radiation into the body toàn thân to kill the cancer while giving healthy cells time each day lớn recover.

The radiation beam is usually generated by a machine called a linear accelerator. The linear accelerator, or linac, is capable of producing high-energy X-rays và electrons for the treatment of your cancer. Using high-tech treatment planning software, your treatment team controls the kích thước and shape of the beam, as well as how it is directed at your body, khổng lồ effectively treat your tumor while sparing the surrounding normal tissue. Several special types of external beam therapy are discussed in the next sections. These are used for specific types of cancer, and your radiation oncologist will recommend one of these treatments if he or she believes it will help you.

Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)

Tumors are not regular - they come in different shapes và sizes. Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, or 3D-CRT, uses computers và special imaging techniques to show the size, shape and location of the tumor. Computer assisted tomography (CT or mèo scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MR or MRI scans) and/or positron emission tomography (PET scans) are used khổng lồ create detailed, three-dimensional representations of the tumor and surrounding organs. Your radiation oncologist can then precisely tailor the radiation beams to the kích cỡ and shape of your tumor with multileaf collimators (see picture, right) or custom fabricated field shaping blocks. Because the radiation beams are very precisely directed, nearby normal tissue receives less radiation và is able lớn heal quickly. 

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is a specialized form of 3D-CRT that allows radiation khổng lồ be more exactly shaped lớn fit the tumor. With IMRT, the radiation beam can be broken up into many "beamlets," & the intensity of each beamlet can be adjusted individually. Using IMRT, it may be possible to lớn further limit the amount of radiation that is received by healthy tissue near the tumor. In some situations, this may also allow a higher dose of radiation to lớn be delivered khổng lồ the tumor, potentially increasing the chance of a cure.

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Proton Beam Therapy

Proton beam therapy is a size of external beam radiation treatment that uses protons rather than X-rays to treat certain types of cancer & other diseases. The physical characteristics of the proton therapy beam allow doctors to lớn more effectively reduce the radiation dose to nearby healthy tissue. Proton therapy is available at only a few specialized centers in the country.

Neutron Beam Therapy

Like proton therapy, neutron beam therapy is a specialized khung of external beam radiation therapy. It is often used to lớn treat certain tumors that are radioresistant, meaning that they are very difficult khổng lồ kill using conventional X-ray radiation therapy. Neutrons have a greater biologic impact on cells than other types of radiation. Used carefully, this added impact can be an advantage in certain situations. Neutron therapy is available at only a few specialized centers.

Stereotactic Radiotherapy

Stereotactic radiotherapy is a technique that allows your radiation oncologist khổng lồ precisely focus beams of radiation to destroy certain types of tumors. Since the beam is so precise, your radiation oncologist may be able to lớn spare more healthy tissue. This additional precision is achieved by using a very secure immobilization, such as a head frame used in the treatment of brain tumors. Stereotactic radiotherapy is frequently given in a single dose (sometimes called radiosurgery) although certain situations may require more than one dose. In addition lớn treating some cancers, radiosurgery can also be used to treat malformations in the brain"s blood vessels & certain noncancerous (benign) neurologic conditions. Sometimes a high dose of stereotactic radiotherapy can be focused upon a tumor outside the brain & given in a few treatments (typically three khổng lồ eight). This size of treatment is called stereotactic body radiation therapy.

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

Radiation oncologists use image-guided radiation therapy, or IGRT, to lớn help better deliver the radiation to lớn the cancer since tumors can move between treatments due to differences in organ filling or movements while breathing. IGRT involves conformal radiation treatment guided by imaging, such as CT, ultrasound or X-rays, taken in the treatment room just before the patient is given the radiation treatment. All patients first undergo a CT scan as part of the planning process. The imaging information from the CT scan is then transmitted to lớn a computer in the treatment room to allow doctors khổng lồ compare the earlier image with the images taken just before treatment. During IGRT, doctors compare these images lớn see if the treatment needs khổng lồ be adjusted. This allows doctors to better target the cancer while avoiding nearby healthy tissue. In some cases, doctors will implant a tiny marker in or near the tumor to pinpoint it for IGRT.

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What is Brachytherapy?

Also known as internal radiation, brachytherapy involves placing radioactive material into a tumor or its surrounding tissue. Because the radiation sources are placed so close to the tumor, your radiation oncologist can deliver a large dose of radiation directly khổng lồ the cancer cells. The radioactive sources used in brachytherapy, such as thin wires, ribbons, capsules or seeds, come in small sealed containers. These sources may be implanted permanently or temporarily. A permanent implant remains in the body after the sources are no longer radioactive. Other radioactive sources are placed temporarily inside the body and are removed after the right amount of radiation has been delivered.

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What are Additional Treatment Options?

Systemic Radiation Therapy

Certain cancers may be treated by swallowing radioactive pills or receiving radioactive fluids in the vein (intravenous). This type of treatment is called systemic radiation therapy because the medicine goes khổng lồ the entire body. For example, radioactive iodine (I-131) capsules are given to lớn treat some types of thyroid cancer. Another example is the use of intravenous radioactive material khổng lồ treat pain due to lớn cancer that has spread khổng lồ the bone. Radiolabeled antibodies are monoclonal antibodies with radioactive particles attached. These antibodies are designed khổng lồ attach themselves directly khổng lồ the cancer cell & damage it with small amounts of radiation.

Novel Targeted Therapies

Cancer doctors now know much more about how cancer cells function. New cancer therapies use this information to lớn target cancer cell functions & stop them. Called targeted therapies, they can be more specific in stopping cancer cells from growing và may make other treatments work better. For example, some medicines work to prevent cancers from growing by preventing the growth of new blood vessels that would nourish the cancer. Other targeted therapies work more directly on cancer cells by blocking the kích hoạt of molecules on the surface of cancer cells called growth factors.

Radiosensitizers

Any drug that can make tumor cells more sensitive lớn radiation is called a radiosensitizer. Combining radiation with radiosensitizers may allow doctors to kill more tumor cells. Some types of chemotherapy & some novel targeted therapies can act as radiosensitizers.

Radioprotectors

Some medicines called radioprotectors can help protect healthy tissue from the effects of radiation.

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy given during surgery is called intraoperative radiation therapy. Intraoperative radiation therapy is helpful when vital normal organs are too close to lớn the tumor. During an operation, a surgeon temporarily moves the normal organs out of the way so radiation can be applied directly lớn the tumor. This allows your radiation oncologist lớn avoid exposing those organs khổng lồ radiation. Intraoperative radiation can be given as external beam therapy or as brachytherapy.

Chemotherapy

Medicines prescribed by a medical oncologist that can kill cancer cells directly are called chemotherapy. Some are given in pill form, & some are given by injection. Chemotherapy can also be considered a type of systemic therapy, because medicines go through the bloodstream khổng lồ the entire body.

Immunotherapy

Some treatments are designed khổng lồ help your own body"s immune system fight the cancer, similar khổng lồ how your body fights off infections.

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Who are the Members of the Radiation Therapy Team?

A team of highly trained medical professionals will be involved in your care during radiation therapy. This team is led by a radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in using radiation lớn treat cancer.

Radiation Oncologists

Radiation oncologists are the doctors who will oversee your radiation therapy treatments. These physicians work with the other members of the radiation therapy team to develop and prescribe your treatment plan và make sure that each treatment is given accurately. Your radiation oncologist will also track your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary to make sure you receive the best care. Radiation oncologists help identify và treat any side effects that may occur due to radiation therapy. They work closely with other cancer doctors, including medical oncologists & surgeons, and all members of the radiation oncology team.

Radiation oncologists have completed at least four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of general medical training & four years of residency (specialty) training in radiation oncology. They have extensive training in cancer medicine và the safe use of radiation lớn treat disease. If they pass a special examination, they are certified by the American Board of Radiology. You should ask if your doctor is board certified.

Medical Physicists

Medical physicists work directly with the radiation oncologist during treatment planning & delivery. They oversee the work of the dosimetrist and help ensure that complex treatments are properly tailored for each patient. Medical physicists develop và direct chất lượng control programs for equipment and procedures. They also make sure the equipment works properly by taking precise measurements of the radiation beam and performing other safety tests on a regular basis.

Dosimetrists

Dosimetrists work with the radiation oncologist & medical physicist khổng lồ carefully calculate the dose of radiation to lớn make sure the tumor gets enough radiation. Using computers, they develop a treatment plan that can best destroy the tumor while sparing the healthy tissue.

Radiation Therapists

Radiation therapists work with radiation oncologists lớn give the daily radiation treatment under the doctor"s prescription and supervision. They maintain daily records & regularly kiểm tra the treatment machines lớn make sure they are working properly.

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Radiation Oncology Nurses

Radiation oncology nurses work with every member of the treatment team to care for you and your family before, during and after treatment. They will explain the possible side effects you may experience and will describe how you can manage them. They will assess how you are doing throughout treatment và will help you cope with the changes you are experiencing. If they pass a special exam, they are certified by the Oncology Nursing Exam as an Oncology Certified Nurse.

Other Healthcare professionals

You may work with a number of other healthcare professionals while undergoing radiation therapy. These specialists ensure that all of your physical và psychological needs are met during your treatment.

Social Workers

Social workers are available khổng lồ provide a variety of tư vấn services khổng lồ you and your family. They can provide counseling to lớn help you and your family cope with the diagnosis of cancer và with your treatment. They may also help arrange for trang chủ healthcare & other services.

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Dietitians

Dietitians can work with you khổng lồ help you eat right during your treatments. They can help you modify your eating plan if treatment is affecting your appetite và what you can eat, and can provide recipes, thực đơn suggestions and information on helping manage some treatment side effects from a dietary standpoint. Any dietary issues và questions you may have regarding supplements & claims you may read about can also be addressed at time of consult or during treatment

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists use exercises lớn help your toàn thân function properly while you are undergoing treatment. These exercises can help manage side effects, alleviate pain and keep you healthy.

Dentists

Dentists may be involved if you are receiving radiation for oral or head and neck cancers. They will help prevent the radiation from damaging the healthy areas of your mouth, caring for teeth, gums và other tissues in the mouth, và may recommend preventive dental work before radiation. They will also help manage oral side effects of cancer therapy, such as dry mouth.

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Is Radiation Therapy Safe?

Some patients are concerned about the safety of radiation therapy. Radiation has been used successfully to lớn treat patients for more than 100 years. In that time, many advances have been made to ensure that radiation therapy is safe and effective.

Before you begin receiving radiation therapy, your radiation oncology team will carefully tailor your plan khổng lồ make sure that you receive safe và accurate treatment. Treatment will be carefully planned khổng lồ focus on the cancer while avoiding healthy organs in the area. Throughout your treatment, members of your team check and re-check your plan. Special computers are also used khổng lồ monitor và double-check the treatment machines to make sure that the proper treatment is given. If you undergo external beam radiation therapy, you will not be radioactive after treatment ends because the radiation does not stay in your body. However, if you undergo brachytherapy, tiny radioactive sources will be implanted inside your body, in the tumor or in the tissue surrounding the tumor, either temporarily or permanently. Your radiation oncologist will explain any special precautions that you or your family & friends may need to lớn take.

Some patients worry that radiation therapy will cause cancer years after treatment. While this is a very small risk, it is most important to cure the cancer now. Talk with your radiation oncologist or radiation oncology nurse about any fears you may have. Like all therapies, radiation can cause side effects. See page 17 for more information.

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What Happens Before, During & After Treatment?

Once the diagnosis has been made, you will probably talk with your primary care physician along with several cancer specialists, such as a surgeon, a medical oncologist & a radiation oncologist, to discuss your treatment choices. These specialists will work together to help recommend the best treatment for you. In some cases, your cancer will need khổng lồ be treated by using more than one type of treatment. For example, if you have breast cancer, you might have surgery lớn remove the tumor (by a surgeon), then have radiation therapy lớn destroy any remaining cancer cells in or near your breast (by a radiation oncologist). You also might receive chemotherapy (by a medical oncologist) lớn destroy cancer cells that have traveled khổng lồ other parts of the body.

Before Treatment

Meeting With a Radiation OncologistIf you are considering radiation therapy, you must first meet with a radiation oncologist khổng lồ see if radiation therapy is right for you. During your first visit, your doctor will evaluate your need for radiation therapy & its likely results. This includes reviewing your current medical problems, past medical history, past surgical history, family history, medications, allergies và lifestyle. The doctor will also perform a physical exam to lớn assess the extent of your disease và judge your general physical condition. You may also be seen by a medical student, a resident (radiation oncologist in training), a nurse practitioner, a physician"s assistant or a nurse. After reviewing your medical tests, including CT scans, MRI scans and PET scans, & completing a thorough examination, your radiation oncologist will discuss with you the potential benefits and risks of radiation therapy and answer your questions. For a danh sách of questions that you may want khổng lồ ask, please see the section "What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?" on page 20.

SimulationTo be most effective, radiation therapy must be aimed precisely at the same target or targets each and every time treatment is given. The process of measuring your toàn thân and marking your skin lớn help your team direct the beams of radiation safely và exactly to their intended locations is called simulation. During simulation, your radiation oncologist and radiation therapist place you on the simulation machine in the exact position you will be in during the actual treatment. Your radiation therapist, under your doctor"s supervision, then marks the area khổng lồ be treated directly on your skin or on immobilization devices. Immobilization devices are molds, casts, headrests or other devices that help you remain in the same position during the entire treatment. The radiation therapist marks your skin and/or the immobilization devices either with a bright, temporary paint or a phối of small, permanent tattoos.

Your radiation oncologist may request that special blocks or shields be made for you. These blocks or shields are put in the external beam therapy machine before each of your treatments và are used lớn shape the radiation khổng lồ your tumor & keep the rays from hitting normal tissue. Multileaf collimators may also be used to lớn shape the beam & achieve safe delivery of your radiation treatment.

Treatment PlanningOnce you have finished with the simulation, your radiation oncologist và other members of the treatment team review the information they obtained during simulation along with your previous medical tests khổng lồ develop a treatment plan. Often, a special treatment planning CT scan is done to lớn help with the simulation và treatment planning. This CT scan is in addition lớn your diagnostic CT scan. Frequently, sophisticated treatment-planning computer software is used to lớn help thiết kế the best possible treatment plan. After reviewing all of this information, your doctor will write a prescription that outlines exactly how much radiation you will receive and to what parts of your body.

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During Treatment

External Beam Radiation Therapy TreatmentsWhen you undergo external beam radiation therapy treatment, each session is painless, just like getting an X-ray. The radiation is directed at your tumor from a machine located away from your body, usually a linear accelerator. External beam radiation is noninvasive, unlike surgery which is an invasive process. One of the benefits of radiation therapy is that it is usually given as a series of outpatient treatments (meaning you don"t have to lớn stay in the hospital). You may not need to miss work or experience the type of recuperation period that may follow other treatments.

Treatments are usually scheduled five days a week, Monday through Friday, & continue for one lớn 10 weeks. The number of radiation treatments you will need depends on the size, location & type of cancer you have, the intent of the treatment, your general health và other medical treatments you may be receiving. The radiation therapist will give you your external beam treatment following your radiation oncologist"s instructions. It will take five to lớn 15 minutes for you khổng lồ be positioned for treatment and for the equipment lớn be set up. If an immobilization device was made during simulation, it will be used during every treatment khổng lồ make sure that you are in the exact same position every day.

Once you are positioned correctly, the therapist will leave the room & go into the control room next door lớn closely monitor you on a television screen while giving the radiation. There is a microphone in the treatment room so you can always talk with the therapist if you have any concerns. The machine can be stopped at any time if you are feeling sick or uncomfortable. The radiation therapist may move the treatment machine and treatment table khổng lồ target the radiation beam to lớn the exact area of the tumor. The machine might make noises during treatment that sound like clicking, knocking or whirring, but the radiation therapist is in complete control of the machine at all times.

The radiation therapy team carefully aims the radiation in order khổng lồ reduce the dose to lớn the normal tissue surrounding the tumor. Still, radiation will affect some healthy cells. Time between daily treatments allows your healthy cells to repair much of the radiation effect, while cancer cells are not as likely to lớn survive the changes.

Sometimes a course of treatment is interrupted for a day or more. This may happen if you develop side effects that require a break in treatment. These missed treatments may be made up by adding treatments at the end. Try khổng lồ arrive on time & not miss any of your appointments. Time spent in the treatment room may vary depending on the type of radiation, but it generally ranges from 10 lớn 40 minutes. Most patients are treated on an outpatient basis, and many can continue with normal daily activities.

Your radiation oncologist monitors your daily treatment và may alter your radiation dose based on these observations. Also, your doctor may order blood tests, X-rays và other tests to lớn see how your toàn thân is responding to lớn treatment. If the tumor shrinks significantly, another simulation may be required. This allows your radiation oncologist lớn change the treatment to destroy the rest of the tumor và spare even more normal tissue.

Weekly Status ChecksDuring radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist & nurse will see you regularly to lớn follow your progress, evaluate whether you are having any side effects, recommend treatments for those side effects (such as medication), and address any concerns you may have. As treatment progresses, your doctor may make changes in the schedule or treatment plan depending on your response or reaction khổng lồ the therapy. Your radiation therapy team may gather on a regular basis with other healthcare professionals to đánh giá your case to lớn ensure your treatment is proceeding as planned. During these sessions, all the members of the team discuss your progress as well as any concerns.

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Weekly Beam FilmsDuring your course of treatment, correct positions of the treatment beams will be regularly verified with images made using the treatment beam itself. These images (called port films, beam films or portal verification) represent an important quality assurance check, but bởi not evaluate the tumor itself.

BrachytherapyBrachytherapy is the placement of radioactive sources in or just next to lớn a tumor. The word brachytherapy comes from the Greek "brachy" meaning short distance. During brachytherapy, the radioactive sources may be left in place permanently or only temporarily, depending upon your cancer. Khổng lồ position the sources accurately, special catheters or applicators are used.

There are two main types of brachytherapy - intracavitary treatment & interstitial treatment. With intracavitary treatment, the radioactive sources are put into a space near where the tumor is located, such as the cervix, the vagina or the windpipe. With interstitial treatment, the radioactive sources are put directly into the tissues, such as the prostate.

Sometimes these procedures require anesthesia và a brief stay in the hospital. Patients with permanent implants may have a few restrictions at first & then can quickly return khổng lồ their normal activities. Temporary implants are left inside of your body toàn thân for several hours or days. While the sources are in place, you will stay in a private room. Doctors, nurses & other medical staff will continue khổng lồ take care of you, but they will take special precautions to limit their exposure to radiation. Devices called high-dose-rate remote afterloading machines allow radiation oncologists to complete brachytherapy quickly, in about 10 to 20 minutes. Powerful radioactive sources travel through small tubes called catheters khổng lồ the tumor for the amount of time prescribed by your radiation oncologist. You may be able lớn go trang chủ shortly after the procedure. Depending on the area treated, you may receive several treatments over a number of days or weeks.

Most patients feel little discomfort during brachytherapy. If the radioactive source is held in place with an applicator, you may feel discomfort from the applicator. There are medications that can relieve this discomfort. If you feel weak or queasy from the anesthesia, your radiation oncologist can give you medication khổng lồ make you feel better. Depending on the type of brachytherapy you received, you may need to lớn take some precautions after you leave your treatment, particularly if you plan lớn be around young children or pregnant women. Ask your radiation oncologist or radiation oncology nurse about anything special you should know.

After Treatment

Follow UpAfter treatment is completed, follow-up appointments will be scheduled so that your radiation oncologist can make sure your recovery is proceeding normally & can continue to lớn monitor your health status. Your radiation oncologist may also order additional diagnostic tests. Reports on your treatment may also be sent khổng lồ the other doctors helping treat your cancer. As time goes by, the number of times you need lớn visit your radiation oncologist will decrease. However, you should know that your radiation oncology team will always be available should you need to speak khổng lồ someone about your treatment.

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Are There Any Side Effects?

Radiation therapy is usually well tolerated & many patients are able to lớn continue their normal routines. However, some patients may eventually develop painful side effects. Be sure khổng lồ talk to a member of your radiation oncology treatment team about any problems or discomfort you may have. Many of the side effects of radiation therapy are only in the area being treated. For example, a breast cancer patient may notice skin irritation, lượt thích a mild lớn moderate sunburn, while a patient with cancer in the mouth may have soreness when swallowing. Some patients who are having their midsection treated may report feeling sick to their stomach. These side effects are usually temporary & can be treated by your doctor or other members of the treatment team.

Side effects usually begin by the second or third week of treatment, và they may last for several weeks after the final radiation treatment. In rare instances, serious side effects develop after radiation therapy is finished. Your radiation oncologist và radiation oncology nurse are the best people lớn advise you about the side effects you may experience. Talk with them about any side effects you are having. They can give you information about how khổng lồ manage them và may prescribe medicines or changes in your eating habits to lớn help relieve your discomfort.

The side effect most often reported by patients receiving radiation is fatigue. The fatigue patients experience is usually not severe, & patients may be able to continue all or some of their normal daily activities with a reduced schedule. However, treating cancer often requires considerable mental & physical effort. Whenever possible, try lớn take time during your treatment lớn rest và relax.

Many patients are concerned that radiation therapy will cause another cancer. In fact, the risk of developing a second tumor because of radiation therapy is very low. For many patients, radiation therapy can cure your cancer. This benefit far outweighs the very small risk that the treatment could cause a later cancer. If you smoke, the most important thing you can bởi vì to reduce your risk of a second cancer is to lớn quit smoking.

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What Are Clinical Trials?

Cancer specialists regularly conduct studies to chạy thử new treatments. These studies are called clinical trials. Clinical trials are available through cancer doctors everywhere- not just in major cities or in large hospitals.

Some clinical studies try to determine if a therapeutic approach is safe và potentially effective. Many large clinical trials compare the more commonly used treatment with a treatment that cancer experts think might be better. Patients who participate in clinical trials help doctors & future cancer patients find out whether a promising treatment is safe and effective. All patients who participate in clinical trials are carefully monitored to make sure they are getting unique care. It is important to lớn remember that clinical trials are completely voluntary. Patients can leave a trial at any time. Clinical trials testing new treatments are carried out in phases:

Phase I - Is the Treatment Safe? As the first step in testing the research, doctors gather information about the side effects of the treatment và decide on the safe dose. Only a few patients in a few places take part in a Phase I trial. Phase II - Does the Treatment Work? In this step, doctors test the treatment to lớn see how well it works. Most of the time, fewer than 100 patients are involved in Phase II trials. Phase III - Is the Treatment Better? Phase III trials compare the new treatment against the current standard therapy và randomly assign patients into one of the two groups. Many people from all over the country take part in these trials. Phase IV - Are There Better Ways lớn Use the Treatment? In this final step, treatments are tested to make sure they are safe and work well over a long period of time. This phase most often occurs once the new treatment has been approved for standard use. Anywhere from several hundred to several thousand people are enrolled in a Phase IV trial.

Only you can make the decision about whether or not to lớn participate in a clinical trial. Before making your decision, it is important khổng lồ learn as much as possible about your cancer và the clinical trials that may be available to lớn you. Your radiation oncologist can answer many of your questions if you are considering taking part in a trial or liên hệ the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER or www.cancer.gov.

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How Should I Care for Myself During Radiation Therapy?

Get plenty of rest. Many patients experience fatigue during radiation therapy, so it is important to make sure you are well rested. If possible, ask friends và family khổng lồ help out during treatment, by running errands and preparing meals. This will help you get the rest you need to focus on fighting your cancer. Follow doctor"s orders. In many cases, your doctor will ask you to điện thoại tư vấn if you develop a fever of 101° or higher. Be sure lớn read your instructions as far as caring for yourself during treatment. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. A dietitian, nurse or doctor may work with you to make sure you are eating the right foods to get the vitamins and minerals you need. With certain types of radiation, you may need to lớn change your diet to minimize side effects. You should not attempt to thảm bại weight during radiation therapy since you need more calories due to your cancer và treatment. Treat the skin that is exposed to radiation with extra care. The skin in the area receiving treatment may become red và sensitive, similar khổng lồ getting a sunburn. Your radiation oncology nurse will đánh giá specific instructions for caring for your skin with you. Some guidelines include: Clean the skin daily with warm water và a mild soap recommended by your nurse. Avoid using any lotions, perfumes, deodorants or powders in the treatment area unless approved by your doctor or nurse. Try not lớn use products containing alcohol & perfumes. Avoid putting anything hot or cold on the treated skin. This includes heating pads and ice packs. Stay out of the sun. If you must spend time outdoors, wear a hat or clothing to lớn protect your skin. After treatment, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?

Coping with a diagnosis of cancer and researching the various treatment options can be a stressful experience. To lớn assist you in this process, below is a danh sách of questions you may want lớn ask your radiation oncologist if you are considering radiation therapy.

Questions to lớn ask before treatment

What type và stage of cancer do I have? What is the purpose of radiation treatment for my type of cancer? How will the radiation therapy be given? Will it be external beam or brachytherapy? What vì chưng the treatments feel like? For how many weeks will I receive radiation? How many treatments will I receive per week? What are the chances that radiation therapy will work? Can I participate in a clinical trial? If so, what is the trial testing? What are my benefits & risks? What is the chance that the cancer will spread or come back if I bởi not have radiation therapy? Will I need chemotherapy, surgery or other treatments? If so, in what order will I receive these treatments? How soon after radiation therapy can I start them? How should I prepare for this financially? What are some of the support groups I can turn lớn during treatment? If I have questions after I leave here, who can I call? Will radiation therapy affect my ability khổng lồ have children? do you take my insurance?

Questions khổng lồ ask during Treatment

How can I expect lớn feel during treatment và in the weeks following radiation therapy? Can I drive myself to & from the treatment facility? Will I be able to continue my normal activities? What side effects may occur from the radiation & how are they managed? bởi vì I need a special diet during or after my treatment? Can I exercise? Can I have sex? Can I smoke or drink alcohol? Will side effects change my appearance? If so, will the changes be permanent or temporary? If temporary, how long will they last? Is it safe to lớn take vitamins during treatment?

Questions khổng lồ ask After Treatment Ends

How và when will you know if I am cured of cancer? What are the chances that the cancer will come back? How soon can I go back to my regular activities? Work? Sexual activity? Aerobic exercise? How often vày I need to return for checkups?

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