More than half of all cancer patients will receive radiation therapy at some point in their treatment, making it one of the most common forms of therapy available today. If you’re about to begin radiation therapy, you likely have questions: how long will it take? Will it hurt? Can I go about my life as normal?
We’ve found that when patients know what to expect, they’re less anxious throughout the process.
The Radiation Process
If you’re receiving external radiation, the process is similar to getting a CT scan. First, you’ll be brought into a room with a large, open-air machine. You’ll be asked to lay inside part of the machine on a cradle (which will likely be custom-fit to your body), and the machine will begin circulating around you.
It’s very important that you remain still while you’re lying in the cradle. The machine is designed to administer radiation at your tumors and cancerous cells; therefore, moving can affect healthy cells. Should you need to move, simply let your technician know — there are cameras, microphones, and speakers in the room.
What we stress most to patients is that you won’t see or feel the radiation, meaning radiation therapy is completely painless. If anything, you may just hear loud noises coming from the machine as it moves around you, which is completely normal. On average, patients undergo therapy five days a week (each session lasts 10 - 20 minutes) for five to eight weeks.
Throughout Your Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is an outpatient procedure, so most patients don’t have to make extensive lifestyle changes. Typically, we ask patients to focus on two things throughout their treatment:
- Nutrition: Good nutrition is incredibly important throughout radiation therapy. Typically, patients need to increase their normal caloric intake to fuel their body and help healthy cells rebuild. We also encourage patients to drink plenty of water in order to keep their skin and cells well hydrated.
- Activity level: Staying as active as your body will allow is very important. While we, by no means, suggest beginning a new, intense fitness regimen, patients should avoid laying in bed for long periods of time. Going for walks, taking a leisurely bike ride, or swimming are all low-impact ways to stay active.
Beverly Oncology & Imaging offers state-of-the-art medical technology with greater convenience than hospitals can offer. We are leaders in our field, using cutting-edge technology like Rotating Gamma Technology™, External Beam therapy, and brachytherapy. Contact us today to discuss treatment options or to make an appointment.