Radiation therapy, sometimes called radiotherapy, effectively treats cancer by using high-energy rays to pinpoint and destroy cancerous cells in your body. Although radiation therapy is similar to having an X-ray taken of a broken bone, the dose of radiation in cancer treatment is stronger and is given over a longer period of time. Many forms of radiation are available. The best choice for you depends on the type of cancer you have, the extent of the cancer, and its location.
Cancers are growths of abnormal cells. Different types of cancer react to radiation in different ways, so treatments vary. Also, it takes time for the body to get rid of dead cancer cells. After you have completed treatment, months often pass before the tumor is completely gone.
With careful planning, radiation can be directed to the cancer and away from most normal tissues. This means you may receive treatment on more than one side of your body or from different angles. You may also need more than one type of radiation, which may require the use of more than one machine.
For your follow-up visits, the simulation visit includes seeing your doctor and setting up your treatment plan. This visit in the Radiation Oncology Center will take from one hour to three hours. You will be asked to sign a consent form agreeing to your treatment. Actual treatment time on subsequent visits takes only a few minutes, but preparation may add 15 to 20 minutes.
Side effects depend on the part of the body being treated. Most go away a few weeks after treatment is stopped.
Have your medical information readily available, including what medications you are currently taking. This information will help the doctor evaluate your health status. Bring your insurance card and the name of your primary care physician, as well as either a social security card, driver’s license or other form of identification.