FAQ'S about Radiotherapy
1.What is Radiation Therapy / Radiotherapy ?
Radiotherapy is the use of various forms of radiation to safety and effectively treat cancer and other diseases. Radiation therapy works by damaging cells. Nornal cells are able to repair themselves where as cancer calls cannot newer radiation techniques also allow doctors to better target the radiation to the tumor and protect healthy cells.
2. What are different kinds of Radiation ?
Radiation Therapy can be delivered in two ways externally and internally. During external beam radiation therapy the radiation oncology team uses a machine to direct high energy x-rays at cancer. Internal radiation therapy invloves placing radioactive sources inside your body.
3. What is external beam radiation Therapy ?
External beam Radiation Therapy also known as teletherapy is using a beam of radiation directed through the skin to the cancer and surrounding tissue. Generally given on machine Linear – Accelerator or Linac. The treatment is planned using planning software to that tumor is treated effectively and nornal tissue is spear. It is a painless procedure and done on OPD basis. Several specific type of extenal beam therapies are used like -
- RAPID ARC
- SRS / SBRT
4. What is Brachytherapy ?
Brachytherapy also known as external radiation involves placing of radioactive material into a linac. Radioactive sources used in brachytherapy such as thin wires, capsula or seeds come in sealed containers. Sources may be implanted permanently or temporarily .
5. Who are Members of Radiation Therapy Team ?
- Radiation Oncologist– They are the doctors who will oversee your radiation therapy treatments. Your radiation oncologist will prescribe your treatment plain and track your progress.They help identify and treat any side effect that may occure due to radiation therapy. They work closely with other cancer doctors, including medical oncologist and surgeons
- Medical Physicists- They work directly with the radiation oncologist during treatment planning and delivery. They oversee that complex treatment are properly tailored for individual patient.
They also make sure that all radiation equipments are fuctioning adequately by taking precise measurement of radiation beams and safety tests on regular intervals.
- Radiation Technologists – They work with radiation oncologist to give daily treatments. They maintain daily patient record and check the machine to make sure they are working properly.
- Radiation Oncology Nurses– They work with every member of the team to care for you during and after treatment. They will explain the possible side effects and how you can manage them. They will also do a regular assessments of your importants vitals.
6. Is Radiation Therapy safe ?
Radiation Therapy has been used successfully to treat patients for more than 100 years.Now with advanced techniques radiation therapy is very effective and safe. Treatments is tailor made for every patient according to the site and placement of tumor and patient is not radioactive after treatment.
7. How is the total procedure before, during and after complition ?
Once the diagnosis is made your primary physician will help you meet the Surgeon, Medical Oncologist , Radiation Oncologist who will together formulate best treatment for you.
- Before Treatment – Your will the Radiation Oncologist who after reviewing your test and after thorough examination explain you risks and benefits of radiation therapy. You will then undergo process of simulation which is the process of measuring your body and marking your sking to help direct the beams of radiation safely to the intended location. Marking is done either on sking or on immobilization devices like Molds , Casts, Headrests that help you to remain in the same position durig entire treatment.
Once semulation is finised then the radiation oncologist uses a sophisticated treatment planning computer software to help design best possible treatment plan.
- During Treatment – When you undergo treatment each session is painless just like geeting an x-ray.
External beam radiation is an out patient procedure done for five days a week(Mon – Froday) and can continue anywhere between one to eight weeks. You may not need to miss your daily work or routine. The time period of radiation treatment depends on size, location and type of cancer. It takes about 10-15 minutes for you to be in same position for treatment process but the entire hospital period on daily basis may vary from 45-50 minutes. After positioning you the therapist will leave the room and monitor you on a screen while giving radiation. There is a microphone in the radiation room so that you can always take to the therapist if you have any concerns
During radiation therapy your radiation oncologist and radiation oncologist nurse will see you regularly and follow your progress and evaluate whether you are having any side effects. Sometimes the doctor can change the schedule and treatment plan.
- After Plan – After treatment is completed, follow up appointments will be scheduled so that your radation oncologist can montior your progress and health status. You may be advised certain diagnostic test.
Are There any sides effects –
Radiation Therapy is usually well tolerated and patient can continue their normal routine. Usually the side effects are limited to the area of treatment. For example in breast radiation patient may have skin irritation but in mouth and throat cancer patient has soreness and ulcers in mouth and difficulty in swallowing. Side effects usually begin in third week of treatment and are usually temporary they subside after several weeks after completion of radiation. In rare cases serious side effects can develop but you should talk to your radiation oncologist about them who can help you manage the side effects.
9. How should I take care of myself during treatment ?
- Get plenty of rest.
- Follow doctor's order.
- Eat a Balanced diet.
- Take care of skin exposed in radiation area as advised.
- Talk to your doctor / Social worker regularly about your problems,
10. Question to ask your doctors
- What cancer do I have ?
- What is the stage of cancer ?
- Why do I need radiation therapy ?
- How will radiation therapy be given ?
- How many weaks of treatment do I required ?
- Will I need any other treatment like Surgery or Chemotherapy ?
- Will I be able to continue my normal activities ?
- What are the expected side effects or how do I have to cope with them ?
- Do I need special diet ?
- Can I exercise ?
- Can I lead normal sexual life ?
- When can I have normal appearance ?
- Can I sit around in public and have food with everyone ?
- Can I somke or have alcohal ?
- Can I be able to have children ?
- How will I come to know if I am cured ?
- How soon can I resume normal activity ?
- How often do I need checkup ?