“You need radiation therapy.” The words can bring on a sense of being overwhelmed, not to mention feelings of uncertainty and fear. But you can counter some of those anxious moments by learning all you can about your cancer treatment, your care team and what to expect from radiation therapy.
What is radiation therapy and how is it used?
This therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells.
This intense energy damages the DNA of tumor cells, which die, and the surrounding normal tissues heal themselves.
The most common uses of radiation include:
- Prior to surgery – To shrink a tumor and make it easier to remove.
- After surgery – To help destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Instead of surgery – When a surgical procedure is ineffective at removing a tumor, radiation therapy is an efficient way of destroying it.
The type of radiation you receive will depend on the cancer you’re battling. Your care team will also consider other factors, including your age, general health and treatment goals.
What to expect when having radiation therapy
Your treatment will be guided by a radiation oncologist: A doctor who specializes in administering radiation therapy to treat cancer. Your radiation therapy schedule may consist of a specific number of treatments given over a set timeframe.
Your first radiation therapy session will be a “practice run” without the use of radiation. Your team will perform imaging scans to pinpoint the tumor location. These may include:
- A computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- An X-ray
Essentially, external radiation therapy is administered like a CT scan. You’ll lie on a table as a machine circles around you. External radiation therapy targets the tumor only, but will affect some healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Each session is quick (lasting about 15 minutes) and for most people, painless. You will likely have treatment sessions five times per week; continuing for three-to-nine weeks.
Anticipating radiation therapy side effects
Side effects are, unfortunately, a part of radiation therapy for many people. Depending on the type of radiation you undergo, fatigue, nausea, skin redness and diarrhea are common. But being ready can help—work closely with your care team to prepare for and successfully manage side effects.
Our compassionate, precise radiation therapy is here to help you win the fight
If you’re facing cancer, let the capable and caring physicians at Regional Cancer Care Associates’ Central Jersey Division fight it with you, with world-class radiation oncology in Central Jersey. Through our new partnership with Princeton Radiation Oncology, you’ll have a team of specially trained, experienced radiation oncologists ready to personalize your radiation therapy to achieve your best possible outcome.
Together, RCCA-CJD and Princeton Radiation Oncology will surround you and your family with the support, resources, individualized attention and highest standard of care. Just know this: Your fight is our fight, and we’ll be by your side during every phase of the battle.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 732-390-7750, or click here to find a location near you.