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What is Radiation Therapy? How does it treat cancer?

Radiation therapy, sometimes called radiotherapy, effectively treats cancer by using high-energy rays to pinpoint and destroy cancerous cells in your body. Although radiation therapy is similar to having an X-ray taken of a broken bone, the dose of radiation in cancer treatment is stronger and is given over a longer period of time. Many forms of radiation are available. The best choice for you depends on the type of cancer you have, the extent of the cancer, and its location.Cancers are growths of abnormal cells. Different types of cancer react to radiation in different ways, so treatments vary. Also, it takes time for the body to get rid of dead cancer cells. After you have completed treatment, months often pass before the tumor is completely gone.With careful planning, radiation can be directed to the cancer and away from most normal tissues. This means you may receive treatment on more than one side of your body or from different angles. You may also need more than one type of radiation, which may require the use of more than one machine.

What will happen on my first visit?

For your initial visit, the Radiation Oncology team usually meets you at the Radiation Oncology Center.If, after evaluation, you decide to proceed with treatment, you will receive more information about the radiation therapy treatment process and side effects that you might experience. Before you leave, an appointment will be made for your planning session (simulation).

What can I expect after my doctor refers me to see a Radiation Oncologist?

You will see your doctor in the Radiation Oncology Center or in your primary clinic. An appointment will be made for a planning session (simulation). This visit includes seeing your doctor and setting up your treatment plan. Be prepared to spend one to three hours in the Radiation Oncology Center. You will be asked to sign a consent form agreeing to your treatment.Simulation is done to locate the exact area to be treated. The radiation therapist will move you into a position that will be the same during your actual treatments. During the simulation, the radiation therapist will take a CT scan of the area that needs to be in the treatment field. As the treatment progresses, the treatment area may change as directed by your doctor.