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This online booklet is for patients who are receiving
radiation therapy for cancer. It describes what to
expect during therapy and offers suggestions for
self-care during and after treatment. It explains the
two most common types of radiation therapy, external
radiation and internal radiation therapy. Information
is included about the general effects of treatment and
how to deal with specific side effects.
You may not want to read everything here at one time.
Browse through it, read the sections that are of
interest to you right now, and look at the others as
needed. Because your doctor will plan the treatment
specifically for you and the type of cancer you have,
some information may not apply to you.
Radiation therapy may vary somewhat among different
doctors, hospitals, and treatment centers. Therefore,
your treatment or the advice of your doctor (the
radiation oncologist) may be different from what you
read here. Be sure to ask questions and discuss your
concerns with your doctor, nurse, or radiation
therapist. Ask whether they have any additional
written information that might help you.
You will find some helpful sections at the end of
this Radiation Guide:
The Glossary defines all
the words in bold print. Knowing the meanings of
words that relate to radiation therapy and cancer
treatment can help you understand more about your
illness and the roles of the people involved in your
The section, Additional
Resources for Cancer Information, tells you how
to get more information from the National Cancer
Institute about cancer and services for cancer
The section labeled Notes
may be used to write down the questions you want to
ask your doctor, nurse, or other members of your
FACTS ABOUT RADIATION THERAPY
treatments are painless.
radiation treatment does not make you
- Treatments are
usually scheduled every day except Saturday and
- You need to
allow 30 minutes for each treatment session
although the treatment itself takes only a few
- It's important
to get plenty of rest and to eat a well-balanced
diet during the course of your radiation
- Skin in the
treated area may become sensitive and easily
- Side effects of
radiation treatment are usually temporary and
they vary depending on the area of the body that
is being treated.