Radiation Therapy 101

27. February 2019 Uncategorized 0


There is a lot of information on radiation therapy online.  The process of delivering radiation isn’t exactly the same between facilities however it’s similar.  In this installment we will look into radiation therapy generically to provide a general overview. 

Methods For Treatment

There are a number of ways to treat cancer with radiation; the method used depends on the nature and position of your cancer.  The most prevalent method of radiation is known as external beam therapy.  This is often done using a linear accelerator from the outside of the body directing radiation to the tumor. 

Radiation therapy is known to affect both cancerous and normal cells.  Radiation has a greater effect on cancerous cells.  Treatment is given at the highest dose possible, within a safe limit, to kill cancerous cells without causing damage to normal, healthy cells.  If the goal is to reduce the size of the tumor in order to relieve symptoms or to shrink the tumor for surgery, low dosages are often used.

Radiation Professionals

Radiation therapy is planned out by a specialist cancer doctor known as a radiation oncologist.  Then radiation is delivered by a radiation therapist.  A team of specialists including nurses, health care assistants, counselors, and dieticians will work together to ensure the best possible outcome for your treatment. 

There are many benefits included in how radiation treatment is planned.  Each patient has a unique treatment plan that is designed to meet each patient’s particular need.  During the initial visit a course of treatment will be planned.  This is done using simulators, x-rays, and scans to pinpoint the tumor.  The skin will be marked to define the treatment area. 

Life With Treatments

Most individuals receiving radiation therapy will not need to stay overnight in a hospital after receiving radiation.  Therapy is done on an outpatient need unless your radiation oncologist determines that treatment would be more effective if done while admitted.

Patients are allowed to continue life as normal during their radiation treatment.  It should not cause too much interruption to your day, in fact it should be looked at as another daily routine activity.  Radiation is given using a linear accelerator which works by delivering radiation from the outside through your skin.  Patients receiving treatment lay on a treatment couch and are asked to remain completely still.

Radiation oncologists will determine the length of treatment needed when first evaluating your situation.  The course of treatment can last anywhere from a week to six and can be performed on a weekly or daily basis.  This will depend on a number of factors including the area that is being treated, the aim of the treatment, and more. Each session of radiation varies depending on the machine used.  Most sessions last between five and fifteen minutes.

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