Frequently Asked Questions – Radiation Therapy
We understand that radiation therapy can be confusing or overwhelming. This handout contains a list of questions that many patients have asked in the past. We hope this information will help you understand what will happen during your treatment.
When will I get the results of my CT scan from today?
The CT scan that you had today was for treatment planning only. Doctors or therapists will not be able to use this scan to see changes in your tumor.
When will my first radiation therapy treatment appointment be?
After your CT scan, your treatment plan will be made. You do not have to be present for the planning session. The radiation therapist from your treatment machine will call you in a week or two to set up your first treatment. The therapists will try their best to work with your scheduling needs.
How will I know where my treatment will be?
The therapist who calls you will tell you which machine will be used for your treatment. You will be given directions to that machine.
Where do I check-in?
When you start coming in for treatments, you will not need to check-in at the main registration desk. You may come straight down to radiation oncology and check-in at your treatment machine with a therapist.
When will I see my doctor or nurse?
During treatment, your doctor and nurse will see you on a regular basis. They will follow your progress, assess any side effects, and address any concerns you may have. You will see your doctor once weekly. Of course, concerns may come up on days that you will not see your doctor. If this happens, please let your therapists know. They can answer your questions or refer you to someone else who may help you.
Can I feel the radiation?
You will not feel the radiation. You can hear the machine turn on and make a buzzing sound.
Who else will be a part of my treatment team?
- Radiation Therapists work with doctors to give the daily treatment. They are under the doctor's prescription and supervision. They maintain daily records. They regularly check the treatment machines to make sure they are working properly.
- Dosimetrists carefully calculate the dose of radiation to make sure the tumor gets enough radiation. Using computers, they work with the doctor and the medical physicist to create a treatment plan.
- Medical Physicists work directly with the doctor during treatment planning and delivery. They direct the work of the dosimetrists. They help ensure that treatments are proper for each patient
Will radiation make me sick?
You may have side effects from your radiation treatment. The side effects are based on the site treated. For example, patients being treated to their abdomen or pelvis may feel nauseous. Ask your therapists what side effects you may have. Feeling tired during radiation treatment is a common side effect that many patients have. Skin reactions from the radiation are also common. You will receive more information once you begin treatment.
Will I lose my hair?
If you are being treated to your head or any part of the body covered with hair, there is a chance that you could lose your hair. Based on the dose of radiation that you receive, hair loss can be permanent or temporary.
When will I see side effects from the radiation?
As a rule, about 2 weeks after the start of your treatment side effects may begin. Your therapist will provide you with information once you start treatment.
Will I be radioactive?
No. The only time there is radiation is when the machine is turned on. You are safe to be around others because you are not giving off radiation.
What happens if I can't make it to one of my radiation therapy treatments?
Please call the treatment machine on which you are being treated. Speak with a therapist. It is advised that you do not miss any of your treatments. If you do need to cancel an appointment, another day will be added on to your treatment schedule to make up for the missed day.
How can I contact my doctor before I start treatment or in-between treatments?
You may call our department at (608) 263-8500 to speak with your doctor or a nurse.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 06/22/2011
Copyright © 06/22/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7230
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