radiation-treatment

What to Expect During Radiation Treatment…

Hearing the words, you have breast cancer can be extremely overwhelming in itself. But starting your treatments can leave you feeling worried and unprepared. There is a lot to know when it comes to receiving treatment, including radiation treatment and often times you may not know what to expect. But don’t worry that’s normal!

RELY ON YOUR DOCTORS

Ask questions! If you are worried or want to know eactly what to expect during radiation treatment, ask your doctors and nurses for their help. While they may not have gone through it personally, they have walked hundreds or even thousands of patients through this exact step in their treatment. Your oncologist and nurses are there to help you and guide you. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the treatment, or even side effects of the treatments.

BEFORE TREATMENT

Before actually starting your radiation treatment, plan to meet with your oncologist. Your oncologist will review your medical records, do a simple physical exam and recommend certain tests they might feel necessary before starting radiation treatment.

This is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have, express your concerns, and have your doctor walk you through a treatment session. If you aren’t sure what questions to ask, download our Create Wellness booklet. Our Create Wellness has some commonly asked questions by breast cancer patients that you may not have thought to ask.

DURING TREATMENT

Typically, your first radiation session is a simulation. Meaning your doctors will use imaging scans to identify the exact location of the tumor before giving any radiation therapy. During your first session, the doctors will also make a small mark on your skin to help them pinpoint the radiation beam to the exact treatment site. It’s also not uncommon to be placed in an immobilization device. This helps ensure that you do not move during the treatment sessions.

External-beam radiation therapy

According to cancer.net, external-beam radiation therapy delivers radiation from a machine outside of the body. These sessions are quick and painless and only last about 15 minutes in total. This type of radiation therapy typically requires patients to have treatment sessions 5 times per week for 3-9 weeks.

Internal radiation therapy

This type of radiation therapy includes both temporary and permanent placement of radioactive sources in the tumor site. With this type of radiation, you will have various treatments throughout the weeks. And often times can be required to stay at the hospital for a brief period of time, as anesthesia is required for this treatment.

While internal radiation therapy often doesn’t cause any discomfort or pain. Some patients do report that they have experienced weakness or nausea from the anesthesia.

AFTER TREATMENT

Once your treatment session comes to an end, be sure to schedule any follow-up appointments with your oncologist. This ensures they can check in on your recovery progress and address any side-effects you might have experienced.

As your body heals, remember that practicing self-care is extremely important to your healing process. If you feel tired, rest. If you feel like celebrating, do that too. Listening to your body and giving yourself exactly what you need can help bring a sense of peace and healing to your journey.