FAQs about cancer care and treatment

Radiation therapy questions

What are tattoos? Tattoos are permanent marks, about the size of a pen dot, that the therapist uses to align the patient in the same position every treatment.

How long do the treatments take? For each external radiation treatment, the time in the treatment room is about 15 to 30 minutes. This includes the set-up time (verifying your treatment position on the table) as well as the treatment time.

Will I lose my hair? Unlike chemotherapy, radiation and its effects are localized to the treatment area only. Any hair loss is experienced only in the area that is being treated.

What are the side effects? Side effects are related to the area that is being treated. Your doctor and nurse will tell you about the side effects you need to watch out for and how to deal with them.

Why are images taken? Images are taken about once a week to ensure that the area that is being treated is consistent. Changes in a patient’s weight, for example, can cause changes to the skin, thereby shifting the tattoos that are used for proper setup of the treatment area.

Can I carry on normal activities while on treatment? It will depend on what side effects you experience and how bad they are. Many patients are able to perform normal activities while others require more rest than usual and therefore cannot do as much.

Will I be radioactive? No. External beam radiation does not cause you to become radioactive.

 

Chemotherapy questions

What is cancer chemotherapy? Chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs to treat cancer. There are many medications that are used in different cancers. These drugs work in a variety of ways to kill cancer cells.

Do I have to stay overnight in the hospital while I am receiving chemotherapy? Most patients receive chemotherapy as outpatients and are able to go home after their treatments.

Can I work if I am receiving chemotherapy? Many patients are able to work and still receive their chemotherapy treatments.

Will I be sick while I am receiving chemotherapy treatments? There are a variety of very effective medications used to treat nausea from chemotherapy. Most patients find that these medications prevent or greatly reduce nausea.

Can I spend time with children and other members of my family if I am receiving chemotherapy? Yes. The chemotherapy has no effect on those around you. If you need to take any precautions, your doctor will discuss this with you.

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