Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is usually given as part of a course of treatment that also includes surgery and/or chemotherapy. If you are about to start radiation therapy in Albuquerque, you may be wondering what to expect. This blog post will give you an overview of the radiation therapy process, from your initial consultation to your last treatment session.
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy.
Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells, which prevents them from growing and dividing. Healthy cells can also be damaged by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves. Cancer cells are not as good at repairing themselves, so they eventually die.
Radiation therapy is usually given in multiple sessions (known as fractions) over a period of weeks or months. The length of treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated.
Side effects from radiation therapy can occur during treatment or after treatment has ended. They may include fatigue, skin reactions, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and feeling tired. Most side effects go away after treatment ends. Some side effects, such as fatigue or skin reactions, may last for several weeks or months after treatment ends.
How does radiation therapy work?
Radiation therapy uses high energy beams to target and kills cancer cells. The type of radiation used depends on the type and location of the cancer. Radiation therapy can be given externally, from a machine outside the body, or internally, by placing radioactive material in or near the tumor.
External radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation therapy. The machine directs the beams of radiation at the tumor from outside the body. External radiation therapy is usually given in short treatments, five days a week for several weeks.
Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) involves putting radioactive material inside your body close to the cancer cells. Brachytherapy can be used as the only treatment, or along with external radiation therapy. There are two types of brachytherapy: temporary and permanent.
What are the side effects of radiation therapy?
There are a number of potential side effects associated with radiation therapy. The most common side effects are fatigue, skin reactions, and gastrointestinal issues.
Fatigue is a common side effect of radiation therapy and can range from mild to severe. It is important to try to get plenty of rest during treatment and to pace yourself when possible. Skin reactions vary in severity, but are typically redness and irritation at the site of treatment. Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat small, frequent meals to help manage these symptoms.
Other potential side effects include hair loss, lymphedema, and cognitive changes. These side effects are less common, but can still occur in some patients. If you experience any worrisome side effects, be sure to contact your healthcare team for guidance.
How to prepare for radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is an important part of the treatment process for many cancer patients. The team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Albuquerque is dedicated to helping you understand what to expect during your radiation therapy journey.
Before starting radiation therapy, your care team will review your medical history and perform a physical exam. They will also create a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.
You may be asked to stop taking certain medications or supplements before starting radiation therapy. Be sure to tell your care team about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements.
You will also need to avoid eating or drinking anything for several hours before each radiation therapy session. Your care team will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your treatments.
It is important to keep all of your appointments and follow your care team’s instructions during radiation therapy. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to ask your care team for guidance.
What to expect during radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used to treat many different types of cancer, including brain cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and more.
Radiation therapy is usually given in a series of treatments, with each treatment lasting for a few minutes to an hour. The number of treatments you will need depends on the type and stage of your cancer, as well as your overall health.
Most people who have radiation therapy will have some side effects. These side effects are usually mild and go away after treatment is finished. Some common side effects of radiation therapy include fatigue, skin irritation, and nausea.
How to care for yourself after radiation therapy
If you’ve recently undergone radiation therapy in Albuquerque, you may be wondering what to expect in terms of your recovery. Here are some tips on how to care for yourself after radiation therapy:
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet: This will help your body flush out the toxins that can build up after radiation therapy.
- Avoid exposure to sunlight: Your skin will be sensitive after radiation therapy, so it’s important to avoid direct sunlight. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors.
- Keep your skin clean and dry: Radiation therapy can cause skin irritation, so it’s important to keep your skin clean and dry. Gently wash with a mild soap and pat dry. Avoid using harsh scrubbers or irritants.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise can help to improve your circulation and reduce fatigue. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
- Get plenty of rest: Fatigue is common after radiation therapy, so it’s important to get plenty of rest. Take breaks during the day and go to bed early if possible.
If you are considering radiation therapy as a treatment for cancer, it is important to be prepared for what to expect. The team at Albuquerque Radiation Oncology is committed to providing excellent care and support throughout your treatment journey. We hope that this article has helped give you a better understanding of what to expect from radiation therapy and how our team can help you through the process. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.