Call us right away if you have:
- A fever of 100.5° F (38.0° C) or higher
- Pain that is getting worse, even after you take medicine
- New or a sudden onset of pain
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After hours from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., weekends, and holidays
Your radiation oncology doctor will see you one day a week. If your doctor is away that day:
- You may see one of the other radiation oncology doctors.
- Your doctor may have to see you a different day during the week.
You will be told ahead of time.
Your radiation therapy will be Monday through Friday, for up to seven weeks. Your doctor will tell you how many treatments you will need. Each treatment will last a few minutes and should be painless.
Your radiation therapists will position you in the same way on the treatment table each day. You will be alone in the treatment room for a short amount of time during the treatment. Your radiation therapists will see you on a TV screen and can talk with you on an intercom.
You will not become radioactive.
Possible side effects of radiation
Fatigue is feeling more tired than normal. It is common during radiation therapy. You will probably notice you feel more tired during your last few weeks of treatment.
- Only take 30 to 45 minute naps. Sleeping too much may disturb your regular nightly sleep.
- Do light exercise for 30 minutes a day.
The skin where you are getting treatment may change. The changes happen slowly. You may notice changes starting about 2 weeks into your treatment. Your doctor and nurse will tell you how much change is likely. You may notice:
- It feels dry by week 2 or 3
- It becomes red or looks tan by week 4 or 5
- Loss of hair in the treated area
These changes are only short term. They will go away a few weeks after your treatment is done. The rest of your skin will stay the same. If you lost hair, it may look different when it grows back.
Daily skin care:
- Shower or bathe each day.
- Use a mild, unscented soap, such as unscented Dove®.
- Wash using your hands only. Washcloths may be too rough. After bathing, gently pat your skin dry. Make sure to dry any folds of skin.
- Put on a scent-free body lotion, such as unscented Lubriderm®, if the skin in the treatment area feels dry or tight.
- Use an electric shaver for skin around the treatment area. By week 4 or 5, the hair in the treatment area may stop growing. It may start to grow back by 1 month after your treatment is done.
- Do not wash off the ink marks on your skin. Call the clinic to get instructions from the therapists if they fade or wash off. They can be redrawn by the radiation therapists.
- Protect your skin from temperature extremes and sunlight. Use clothing such as long sleeves, pants, and a hat. Use a strong sun screen with a SPF of 25 or higher. Do not use ice packs, ice bags, cold/hot bottles, or a heating pad in your treatment area.
- Do not wear tight clothing, such as turtlenecks and sweaters.
- Tell us if your skin gets red or peels. Your doctor may prescribe ointments or dressings. We will teach you how to use them.
A healthy diet is important for your day-to-day activities and to boost your body’s defenses against infection.
Eat foods high in protein and carbohydrates, such as:
- Boiled or broiled meat, poultry, fish, or eggs or yogurt
Some diet tips are:
- Drink six to eight glasses of fluids each day, unless your doctor says not to.
- Do not skip meals. Try to eat at least a little something to keep on schedule.
- Talk with your doctor about any vitamins or herbal supplements you are taking.
Sex and sexuality
You can still have sexual intercourse during your treatment. You may need more rest before or after, or both. You may need to find other positions that are more comfortable.
You must use a reliable form of birth control if there is a chance you could get pregnant or father a child. Your doctor or nurse will talk with you about the type of birth control you should use and when you can stop using it. Talk with your doctor or nurse before you start radiation therapy if you are concerned about having children after treatment.
Talk openly with your doctor or nurse if you have any other specific concerns. If you feel hesitant to do so, you can also use the online tools in the cancer information service, located in the patient lobby or in the Cancer Center Clinic, or by calling 1-800-237-1225.