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Radiation Therapy FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Click each question below for its answer:

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 sterile temporarily. If this is the case, the time period during which you’re sterile will depend on your age and the radiation dose received by the ovaries or testes.

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.
Should I avoid sexual intercourse while receiving radiation therapy?
With radiation therapy to the pelvic region, it may be necessary to avoid sexual intercourse for a short while. Your radiation oncologist will discuss this with you and advise you with regard to your specific situation.
How long will I receive radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is given for a period of time determined by your doctor (radiation oncologist) and may be from one day up to 10 weeks, depending upon the type of cancer you have. The radiation oncologist will determine your treatment plan and discuss it with you.
Can I schedule my treatments and other appointments at times that are most convenient to me?
We’ll try to schedule your appointments and treatments at a time that suits you best. It may be that someone else is being treated at the time you would like, and you will have to wait until they finish their treatments before you can be scheduled at that time.
Will I receive my treatment the same time every day?
Your treatment will be given at the same time every day, if possible. However, sometimes maintenance or repairs are done on the machines, and you may be asked to come for your treatment at a different time. As soon as the maintenance or repairs are done, you will be treated at your normal time again.
Will the same therapists give me my treatment every day?
Usually, unless they are sick or go on vacation during the course of your treatments. The therapists usually work on a machine for several months at a time, before they move to a different machine. If one of the therapists moves to a different machine during your treatments, the other therapist and a new therapist will continue with your treatments. Your chart is designed to ensure that your treatment is delivered accurately and consistently by any of our therapists.
How many treatments will I have?
It depends on what type of cancer you have and where the cancer is located in your body. Your doctor will determine the appropriate number of treatments for you and discuss your treatment plan with you before you begin. The number of treatments may also depend on how your cancer responds to the treatments.
Can I take a bath or shower while I'm receiving my radiation treatments?
You can shower or take a bath, but you should be careful not to wash off the marks the therapists have put on your skin. Please keep these marks 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, just pat it dry with a towel, don’t rub it.
When can I expect to experience any side effects?
Any side effects you experience will depend on the type of cancer you have, where your cancer is, and how much radiation it takes to destroy the cancer. Your doctor will tell you what to expect from your specific treatment program. In some cases, there may never be any noticeable side effects.
How do I know if the treatments are working? Do you do tests to monitor progress?
In most cases, you won’t know how well the treatments are working until some time after you’re finished with treatment. Sometimes it’s possible to see if the tumor is shrinking on an X-ray or a CAT scan. If you’re having pain or other symptoms from your cancer, you may notice a decrease in pain or symptoms after some treatments. Your doctor will tell you what to expect in your specific case.
Do the port films or check films show how my cancer is progressing?
It’s usually not possible to see your cancer on the port films or check films, but the films can show if there are changes needed in your treatment setup.
How much do the treatments cost?
The cost of your treatments depends on how simple or complex your treatment plan is and how many treatments you will have. We can arrange for you to talk to a financial counselor.
Learn more about Radiation Oncology at St. Luke's