Radiation Therapy Idaho Falls
Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, uses high-energy rays to damage or kill cancer cells by preventing them from growing and dividing. Similar to surgery, radiation therapy is a local treatment used to eliminate or eradicate visible tumors. Radiation therapy is not typically useful in eradicating cancer cells that have already spread to other parts of the body.
Radiation therapy may be externally or internally delivered.
- External radiation delivers high-energy rays directly to the tumor site from a machine outside the body.
- Internal radiation, or brachytherapy, involves the implantation of a small amount of radioactive material in or near cancer.
Radiation may be used to cure or control cancer, or to ease some of the symptoms caused by cancer. Sometimes radiation is used with other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and surgery, and sometimes it is used alone.
WHAT IS RADIATION THERAPY?
Radiation therapy involves treating disease with penetrating beams of high-energy radiation. For example, radiation therapy is used to treat cancer alone or in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy. Radiation therapists are highly skilled members of your cancer management team. They are responsible for accurately recording, interpreting. and administering the treatment prescribed by radiation oncologists. During treatment, therapists help physicians use fluoroscopy, X-ray films, or CT scans to localize and outline anatomical areas requiring treatment.
Radiation Therapy Guidelines
Traditional radiation therapy is useful in killing cancer cells, but it can also damage healthy tissue. As techniques for delivering radiation to the tumor gain precision, the possible side effects have become less severe.
Types of Radiation Therapy:
X-ray Beam: X-rays are high-energy photons (gamma rays) created by machines, and although the beam can be aimed at a tumor, the radiation dose is delivered to healthy tissue in front of and behind the tumor. The energy breaks DNA bonds, causing cell death.
Gamma Knife: Stereotactic radiosurgery uses highly focused gamma rays that originate at different angles and intersect at the site of the tumor. The tumor is hit with a high, concentrated dose of radiation, sparing surrounding healthy tissue from the full dose.
Proton Beam: The larger size of a photon particle ensures that the bulk of the energy is deposited exactly at the tumor site, allowing more precise treatment and, in some cases, treatment of areas previously radiated with standard radiation.
Radiation Therapy - Frequently Asked Questions
How long will I receive radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is given for a period of time determined by your radiation oncologist and may be from one day to eight weeks in duration, depending on which type of cancer you have. Your radiation oncologist will determine the course of your treatment plan and discuss it with you.
May I schedule my treatments and other appointments at times that are most convenient to me?
We will do our best to accommodate your preferences and schedule your appointments and treatments at a time that suits you best.
Will I receive my radiation therapy at the same time every day?
Your treatment will be given at the same time every day, whenever possible.
Can I take a bath or shower while I am receiving my radiation treatments?
You can shower or take a bath, but you should take care not to wash off the marks that the radiation therapists have placed on your skin. You should keep the marks on your skin as dry as possible. Don’t soak the area and don’t let the area be in the direct stream of the shower. If you do get the marked area wet, simply pat it dry with a towel. Don’t rub it.
When can I expect to experience any side effects?
The type and duration of any side effects will depend on the type of cancer you have, where your cancer is, and how much radiation it takes to destroy cancer. Your oncologist will tell you what to expect from your specific treatment program. In some cases, there may never be any noticeable side effects.
How will I know if the treatments are working? Do you conduct tests to monitor the progress of my radiation therapy?
In most cases, you will not know how well the treatments are working until some time after you complete your course of treatment. Sometimes, it is possible to see on an X-ray or CT scan if the tumor is shrinking. If you are having pain or other symptoms from your cancer, you may notice a decrease in pain or symptoms after you have received a few treatments. Your TCI care team will tell you what to expect in your specific case.
Will radiation therapy make me sterile?
If radiation therapy is given to the ovaries or testes, it may make you permanently sterile. If radiation therapy is given to an area close to the ovaries or testes, it may make you temporarily sterile. If this is the case, the time period in which you are sterile will depend on your age and the radiation dosage received. Radiation therapy to an area of your body that is far away from your ovaries or testes should have no effect on your fertility. Your radiation oncologist will discuss this with you and advise you on the risks of sterility in your situation.