Learn About External Radiation Treatments For Cancer

Radiation therapy is a common form of cancer treatment. You might have it along with chemotherapy and surgery. The thought of having treatments may seem frightening, but the treatments themselves are not painful. Here's a look at what you can expect when you have external radiation treatments for cancer.

Your Position During The Treatment Is Critical

Although you won't feel pain from the radiation beam, the treatments might be uncomfortable because you have to stay still the entire time. The staff uses a mold, wedge, or strap to support you and help you stay immobile. You can breathe normally, but you won't be allowed to reposition yourself until the treatment is over. While you'll be alone in the treatment room, you can talk to the staff through an intercom. If you have to move, let the staff know, and the treatment will be stopped temporarily.

The proper position is critical because the radiation beam has to pinpoint the cancer mass to be effective. Accuracy also reduces the risk of damage to healthy tissue. You'll have marks on your skin to guide the positioning of the machine. Getting into the right position for the treatment is often a time-consuming part of your radiation treatments.

Your Treatment Is Tailored To You

External radiation treatments shoot a beam of radiation toward your cancer cells. While the beams target a certain spot, the machine may move around you during the session to shoot the beam from different angles. You may hear clicking and movement noises, but the experience won't cause disturbing noise or odors. There are different types of external beam radiation machines. They work in slightly different ways to achieve the same result. Your treatment is tailored to the location of your cancer.

Sometimes, a single, large dose of radiation is indicated, but radiation therapy is usually given in small doses over multiple sessions rather than in fewer sessions with larger doses. This prevents damage to healthy tissues, and it reduces the risk of side effects. Daily treatments over the course of a few weeks may be needed. Taking off two days a week is common so your body has time to rest and recover.

External beam radiation is one option in the fight against cancer that targets tumors rather than metastasized cancer. The goal is to eliminate the tumor or shrink it to relieve pain and make surgery less complicated. You'll have many questions before you start radiation therapy, but the cancer clinic and doctor will educate you about what to expect and how the treatments will help you. To learn more, check out websites like http://swoncology.net/.