Frequently Asked Questions about Radiation Therapy

How does radiation therapy work?

Special machines send high energy x-rays or particles to the cancer cells. This damages the genetic material within the cells so they can no longer grow and spread. Once this happens, the cancer cells die and the body naturally removes them. Normal cells can also be affected by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves in a way that cancer cells cannot. 

Does radiation treatment hurt?

No, the radiation will cause no pain. You cannot see, smell, or feel the radiation while it is being administered.

Will I be radioactive after my treatment?

No, radiation therapy does not cause you to become radioactive. The radiation is produced by our machines and is not active after treatment. 

Will I be able to be around my friends and family after I’ve been treated?

Yes. There is no lingering radiation after treatment and, therefore, no danger to anyone with whom you may come in contact. If you are receiving a brachytherapy procedure that requires placing radioactive sources in or around the treatment area, your radiation oncologist will discuss any special instructions with you.

Will I experience side effects from the radiation?

While the goal of radiation therapy is to destroy cancer cells, it can also injure or destroy normal cells in surrounding organs and tissue. This can cause some unwanted side effects. Your radiation oncologist will explain any possible side effects before your treatment begins. 

How will I know my schedule?

Your team of radiation therapists will schedule all of your appointments for treatment with you during your first session. 

What if I have questions or concerns during my treatment?

Your nurse will meet with you before your treatment begins to go over what to expect during the treatment and after. You will be closely monitored by your treatment team during treatments. The therapists will always leave the room before radiation begins, but they will watch you constantly on a television monitor and use an intercom to speak with you throughout the treatment session. You will also be given contact numbers and instructions on who to contact and what to do in case any unexpected issues arise between or after treatment sessions. 

How long does treatment take?

Each treatment type is different. Your radiation therapist will give you a rough estimate of how long each treatment will take at the beginning of your first session. 

How long should I plan to be in the Radiation Oncology Department for my treatments?

We aim to treat you as close to your scheduled time as possible. You should plan on being in the department for approximately one hour from your scheduled appointment time. 

Is parking available during my treatment?

Yes, we provide free parking for patients during treatment sessions. Please ask about this at check-in.

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