Radiation oncology or radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses X-rays or other types of energy to reduce or eliminate cancer cells. It damages cancer cells by destroying the parts of the cells that let them grow and divide. Over half of patients diagnosed with cancer receive radiation therapy at different stages of their cancer treatment.
Here’s what you need to know about the process.
CONSULTATION AND PLANNING
Before undergoing radiation oncology, your oncologist will review your medical history and conduct a preliminary screening. They will assess the severity of your condition and overall health to determine the most appropriate type of cancer treatment. At this stage, communicate any concerns you have with your doctor. The earlier you and your treatment team can address any worries you have, the better.
If they determine that you can safely undergo radiation, they will refer you to a radiation oncologist. The radiation oncologist will oversee your treatment and explain each step. Ideally, they should also be able to answer any questions you might have about your treatment plan.
IMAGING AND SIMULATION
Your doctor may order imaging tests to see and understand the extent of your cancer better. During the imaging test, you will likely need to lie on your back, stomach, or side for about 15 to 45 minutes.
Your radiation oncologist will use the resulting images to devise a cancer treatment plan. They will identify locations in your body that will serve as the radiation’s point of entry. Your radiation oncologist will also set the type of radiation, radiation dose (amount of radiation), and frequency of the sessions.
Radiation works well with tumor mitigation if delivered over an extended period of time instead of one lengthy treatment session. It is also much safer for the patient if radiation is administered in smaller doses.
Your doctor may ask you to go through a simulation, so you know what to expect. During the simulation, you may be instructed to put on immobilizers, like a special mold, mask, or cast. They may use a marker pen or a temporary tattoo to indicate where they will aim their instruments. Take this time to ask any questions you may have.
During the actual radiation session, you will be under a radiation source, like a linear accelerator. You can expect to follow the same setup from your simulation. The radiation beam will only hit predetermined targets.
External beam radiation is the most common method in radiation treatment. It uses a machine that directs high-energy radiation to the tumor. The actual treatment session itself is short, lasting for 15 to 30 minutes. Depending on the plan created by your radiation oncologist, you may have to return several days a week for five to eight weeks.
Once you complete all of your radiation sessions, you will return to your healthcare provider for regular check-ups. Make sure to stay in touch with your doctor and share how you’re feeling. They will monitor your response to the treatment and recommend other treatment modalities as necessary. They will also provide instructions on how you can look after yourself and stay healthy.
Your body will need to regain strength after going through radiation therapy. Make sure to eat healthily, get enough rest, and stay active. Making positive lifestyle choices can contribute to your recovery and improve clinical outcomes. If you experience any unusual side effects, consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
RADIATION ONCOLOGY IN WOOSTER, OH
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach to cancer. Every treatment plan is personalized based on the patient’s unique needs. At Wooster Community Hospital, we will work with you to devise a cancer treatment plan that works best for you. You can trust our team to guide you through the treatment process at every step.
To learn more about our services, call us at (330) 263-8100. Alternatively, you can fill out our online appointment request form. You can also visit us at our eight convenient locations in Ohio. We look forward to serving you!