Treating Your Cancer : Common Questions

Answers to Common Questions

Q. Does radiation therapy hurt?
A. Usually not while it is being given. Sometimes the skin becomes tender where it was radiated, like a sunburn.

Q. What are the side effects of radiation therapy?
A. The side effects of radiation therapy vary depending on the body site being treated. Your radiation oncologist will fully discuss any possible side effects with you and write them down to help you remember.

Q. Will I lose my hair?
A. Unlike some chemotherapy agents that cause all body hair to fall out, radiation only causes hair loss where the beam enters and exits the body.

Q. How long does radiation take?
A. If you are having external radiation, count on 25 minutes from the time you arrive in the department to the time you leave. The radiation itself may only take a few minutes. The remaining time is spent in preparation for the treatment.

Q. Will I be able to drive home after a radiation treatment?
A. If you were able to drive to the radiation session, you will be able to drive home.

Q. Will I be a danger to my family?
A. External radiation does not make you radioactive. If you have internal radiation (brachytherapy), you will be hospitalized during the procedure, and may have to keep a safe distance from people while the implant is in your body. Once it is removed, you are no danger to your friends and family. Patients who have permanent implants will be advised by their physicians of any necessary precautions.