Coastal Radiation Oncology Medical Group
world-class cancer care has a local address.

Cancer FAQs

Answers to Questions about Radiation Treatment for Cancer

Below are answers to common questions asked about radiation therapy and the overall treatment process.

Your questions are many and cancer information is everywhere. We’d like to start you off with the basics, as well as a simple word of advice:

Every cancer patient’s journey is unique.

Fighting cancer can be as personal as anything you’ve ever experienced. Other patients may share your diagnosis and treatment options. But you may have vastly different perceptions, discomforts, supports and outcomes.

There are a number of cancer organizations that do a great job of accurately representing the facts. So, in addition to exploring the basics here, you may wish to visit the following sites for in-depth information:

General Questions about Radiation Therapies

Q. How do I prepare for radiation treatments?

A. Most patients do not need to make any changes to their lifestyle before beginning radiation therapy.

Q. How long will my treatment take?

A. The time required for the treatment depends on the treatment plan for your type of cancer.  The average time is generally 20 minutes from the time you arrive until you leave the center.  However, some treatments may take a little longer.  Your first treatment will take longer in order to review the set up with the physician prior to starting.  You may ask your radiation therapist on the first day how long to expect your treatment to last.

Q. Can I drive myself to my treatment?

A. In many cases, yes, but check with your physician prior to your appointment.

Q. Can I eat or drink before my treatments?

A. Your physician will give you dietary instructions based on your specific course of treatment.

Q. What side effects should I expect?

A. Side effects will vary from patient to patient. The most common side effects include tiredness and a skin reaction that is specific to the area targeted for radiation therapy. Our radiation oncologists meet with each patient to discuss the side effects of the radiation therapy and to arrange treatment and/or medication to eliminate any side effects.

Q. Will my skin burn during radiation therapy?

A. At times, a patient may experience a sunburn-like reaction to the radiation. A patient's treatment team will help address what to do in case such a reaction occurs.

Q. How is radiation therapy different from chemotherapy?

A. Radiation is a local or regional form of cancer therapy that is applied to the specific area of the body containing a tumor. By contrast, chemotherapy is given by injection or by mouth and travels throughout the entire body. Both radiation and chemotherapy inhibit cell growth and both therapies can be used together effectively to treat cancer.

See These Disease-Specific FAQs