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How Long Do Radiation Treatments Take

If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Brain

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People with brain tumors often get stereotactic radiosurgery if the cancer is in only one or a few sites in the brain. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. Talk with your radiation oncologist about what to watch for and when to call your doctor.

If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins.

Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects:

  • Trouble with memory and speech

Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Medicines are usually given to prevent brain swelling, but its important to let your cancer care team know about headaches or any other symptoms. Treatment can affect each person differently, and you may not have these particular side effects.

Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common.

Talk with your cancer care team about what to expect from your specific treatment plan.

Who Are The Members Of The Radiation Therapy Team

A team of highly trained medical professionals will be involved in your care during radiation therapy. This team is led by a radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.

Radiation Oncologists

Radiation oncologists are the doctors who will oversee your radiation therapy treatments. These physicians work with the other members of the radiation therapy team to develop and prescribe your treatment plan and make sure that each treatment is given accurately. Your radiation oncologist will also track your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary to make sure you receive the best care. Radiation oncologists help identify and treat any side effects that may occur due to radiation therapy. They work closely with other cancer doctors, including medical oncologists and surgeons, and all members of the radiation oncology team.

Radiation oncologists have completed at least four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of general medical training and four years of residency training in radiation oncology. They have extensive training in cancer medicine and the safe use of radiation to treat disease. If they pass a special examination, they are certified by the American Board of Radiology. You should ask if your doctor is board certified.

Medical Physicists


Radiation Therapists

Radiation Oncology Nurses

Other Healthcare professionals

Social Workers


Physical Therapists


How Does The Physician Know How Much Radiation To Give Me

Through years of research and experience, there are ranges of doses that are recommended for each specific type of cancer. Your case will be thoroughly reviewed by the radiation oncologist, and a customized dose and treatment field will be prescribed based on the cancer diagnosis, the cell type, and the location and stage of the disease.

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How Will My Treatment Be Planned

Your Cooper radiation oncologist will decide how much radiation you need, how it should be delivered, and how many treatments you should have. Hell evaluate your cancer, which includes a review of your medical history, a physical exam and scanning tests . After determining the best way to deliver radiation therapy for your cancer, your radiation oncologist will oversee a simulation of your treatment to ensure that the appropriate radiation dose is delivered to the right location, and that as little radiation as possible is delivered to normal tissue. This is followed by a set-up visit to test the equipment that will be used to deliver your treatment and position any shields to protect healthy tissue or devices to help you lie still during the treatment. After that, you begin your treatment visits.

How Will My Radiation Oncologist Know How Much Radiation To Use

How Long Does It Take To Heal From Radiation Therapy

The choice of which type of radiation to use will be made by your radiation oncologist, depending on what type of cancer you have and on how deep into your body the doctor wants the radiation to penetrate. High-energy radiation is used to treat many types of cancer. Low-energy X-rays are used to treat some kinds of skin diseases.

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What Are Additional Treatment Options

Systemic Radiation Therapy

Certain cancers may be treated by swallowing radioactive pills or receiving radioactive fluids in the vein . This type of treatment is called systemic radiation therapy because the medicine goes to the entire body. For example, radioactive iodine capsules are given to treat some types of thyroid cancer. Another example is the use of intravenous radioactive material to treat pain due to cancer that has spread to the bone. Radiolabeled antibodies are monoclonal antibodies with radioactive particles attached. These antibodies are designed to attach themselves directly to the cancer cell and damage it with small amounts of radiation.

Cancer doctors now know much more about how cancer cells function. New cancer therapies use this information to target cancer cell functions and stop them. Called targeted therapies, they can be more specific in stopping cancer cells from growing and may make other treatments work better. For example, some medicines work to prevent cancers from growing by preventing the growth of new blood vessels that would nourish the cancer. Other targeted therapies work more directly on cancer cells by blocking the action of molecules on the surface of cancer cells called growth factors.



Some medicines called radioprotectors can help protect healthy tissue from the effects of radiation.

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy



How Long Does Brachytherapy Take

How long brachytherapy takes and whether it is done on an outpatient or inpatient basis depends upon the type of internal radiation therapy used and the nature of the cancer. Internal radiation therapy can be completed as quickly as three to five outpatient treatments of a few minutes each over several days. Some types of internal radiation therapy are left in place for up to a week and require a hospital stay during this period.

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Radioprotective Drugs For Reducing Side Effects

One way to reduce side effects is by using radioprotective drugs, but these are only used for certain types of radiation given to certain parts of the body. These drugs are given before radiation treatment to protect certain normal tissues in the treatment area. The one most commonly used today is amifostine. This drug may be used in people with head and neck cancer to reduce the mouth problems caused by radiation therapy.

Not all doctors agree on how these drugs should be used in radiation therapy. These drugs have their own side effects, too, so be sure you understand what to look for.

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What Should I Avoid If I Have Diarrhea

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  • Avoid dried fruits, cruciferous vegetables , raw vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes.
  • Avoid caffeine , alcohol, milk or milk products, chocolate, dried fruits, beans, or popcorn, as well as fatty, fried, greasy, or spicy foods.
  • Avoid very hot and cold drinks.
  • Avoid sugar free gum, candy, and foods that have sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol.

If you are having problems with diarrhea after radiation, make sure to speak with your provider.

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Being Prepared And Understanding Radiation Therapy Can Help Lessen Some Of The Stress Surrounding Your Treatment

Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is one of the main treatments for cancer. Being prepared and understanding radiation therapy can help lessen some of the stress surrounding your treatment. Ask your oncologist, doctor or nurse about the risks and benefits of radiation therapy and any other questions you have about your treatment.

Doses A Delay In Radiation Increases Risk Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Some but not all research suggests that for women who choose to undergo breast-conserving surgery for treatment of early stage breast cancer, a longer interval between surgery and the start of radiation therapy may increases the risk of local cancer recurrence.

Among women who undergo breast-conserving therapy, prompt treatment with radiation therapy after surgery may result in better outcomes than delayed radiation therapy. To explore this issue, researchers evaluated information from a large U.S. database that links cancer registry data with Medicare claims data. Information was available for more than 18,000 women over the age of 65 who had undergone breast-conserving therapy for Stage 0-II breast cancer and did not receive chemotherapy.

The average time from surgery to start of radiation therapy was 34 days and 30% of women started radiation therapy more than six weeks after surgery.

Longer intervals between surgery and the start of radiation therapy were linked with an increased risk of local cancer recurrence. For example, women who started radiation therapy more than six weeks after surgery were 19% more likely to experience local cancer recurrence than women who had a shorter interval between surgery and radiation.

These results suggest that starting radiation therapy as soon as possible after lumpectomy may reduce the risk of local cancer recurrence.

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Frequent Urination Burning With Urination And Difficulty Urinating

These are the most common complaints. Occasionally the urinary stream will weaken. Generally these symptoms are managed with medications to help the bladder function better or eliminate burning. Rarely, your doctor may order a urine test. Symptoms will resolve after the end of treatment. Contact your doctor if you see blood in your urine or if you are unable to urinate.

What Is Intermittent Adt

Effects Of Radiation Therapy On The Brain

Researchers have investigated whether a technique called intermittent androgen deprivation can delay the development of hormone resistance. With intermittent androgen deprivation, hormone therapy is given in cycles with breaks between drug administrations, rather than continuously. An additional potential benefit of this approach is that the temporary break from the side effects of hormone therapy may improve a mans quality of life.

Randomized clinical trials have shown similar overall survival with continuous ADT or intermittent ADT among men with metastatic or recurrent prostate cancer, with a reduction in some side effects for intermittent ADT .

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Can I Have Radiation Therapy If I Am Pregnant

If you are pregnant, you will probably not be able to have radiation therapy, as radiation can harm a developing baby. It’s important that you don’t become pregnant during treatment. Men who have radiation therapy should avoid getting their partner pregnant during treatment and for about six months afterwards, as radiation can damage sperm. Your doctor will be able to give you more information about radiation therapy and pregnancy.

Radiation To The Pelvis

Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause bowel and bladder problems in some patients, including:

  • Urinating more than usual
  • Sexual and/or problems getting pregnant or fathering a child

Management of Side Effects during Pelvic Radiation Therapy

  • Do not eat raw fruits, vegetables or whole grains
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Drink cranberry juice as part of fluid intake
  • Ask your doctor or nurse for medicine if you have painful urination or to lessen frequent loose stools
  • Use birth control to prevent pregnancy
  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines that decrease the number of bowel movements.

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How Radiation Is Used With Other Cancer Treatments

For some people, radiation may be the only treatment you need. But, most often, you will have radiation therapy with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Radiation therapy may be given before, during, or after these other treatments to improve the chances that treatment will work. The timing of when radiation therapy is given depends on the type of cancer being treated and whether the goal of radiation therapy is to treat the cancer or ease symptoms.

When radiation is combined with surgery, it can be given:

  • Before surgery, to shrink the size of the cancer so it can be removed by surgery and be less likely to return.
  • During surgery, so that it goes straight to the cancer without passing through the skin. Radiation therapy used this way is called intraoperative radiation. With this technique, doctors can more easily protect nearby normal tissues from radiation.
  • After surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.

Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation

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After whole breast radiation or even after surgery alone, most breast cancers tend to come back very close to the area where the tumor was removed . For this reason, some doctors are using accelerated partial breast irradiation in selected women to give larger doses over a shorter time to only one part of the breast compared to the entire breast . Since more research is needed to know if these newer methods will have the same long-term results as standard radiation, not all doctors use them. There are several different types of accelerated partial breast irradiation:

  • Intraoperative radiation therapy : In this approach, a single large dose of radiation is given to the area where the tumor was removed in the operating room right after BCS . IORT requires special equipment and is not widely available.
  • 3D-conformal radiotherapy : In this technique, the radiation is given with special machines so that it is better aimed at the tumor bed. This spares more of the surrounding normal breast tissue. Treatments are given twice a day for 5 days or daily for 2 weeks.
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy : IMRT is like 3D-CRT, but it also changes the strength of some of the beams in certain areas. This gets stronger doses to certain parts of the tumor bed and helps lessen damage to nearby normal body tissues.
  • Brachytherapy: See brachytherapy below.

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What Does Radiation Poisoning Feel Like

Nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhoea are among the first symptoms. These symptoms might appear minutes or days after exposure. High-dose exposure can also cause skin damage ranging from irritation to burns, blisters, and ulcers. They could also experience temporary hair loss. The more severe cases of radiation sickness may develop into internal bleeding, immune system failure, neurological problems such as dementia or paralysis, and death.

People who experience high levels of radiation exposure need to be treated by medical professionals immediately. Otherwise, they risk further complications or even death.

Radiation exposure can come in many forms including accidental exposures or intentional exposures . The amount of radiation required to produce harmful effects varies with the amount of exposure. Radiation doses above the normal background level can lead to health concerns. Long-term exposure can cause cancer. Short-term exposure can cause acute radiation syndrome , which is characterized by the presence of any one of several signs and symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, chills, excessive crying, irritability, dizziness, fatigue, muscle aches, malaise, loss of appetite, mouth sores, difficulty breathing, bruising, red skin lesions, swelling of the hands, feet, or legs, and weight gain or loss.

What To Expect During Radiation Treatments

Treatments are usually given five days a week for six to seven weeks. If the goal of treatment is palliative treatment will last 2-3 weeks in length. Using many small doses for daily radiation, rather than a few large doses, helps to protect the healthy cells in the treatment area. The break from treatment on weekends allows the normal cells to recover.

It is very important to finish all sessions of radiation therapy. It is important not to miss or delay treatments because it can lessen how well the radiation kills tumor cells.

The radiation therapy technologist may ask you to change into a gown before treatment. It is a good idea to wear clothing that is easy to pull down, adjust, or remove when coming for treatments.

During the actual treatment sessions you will be in the treatment room between 10-30 minutes. You will be receiving radiation for 1-2 minutes of that time.

You will be asked to lie on a hard, moveable bed. The RTT will use the marks on your skin to exactly position the machine and table. In some instances, special blocks or shields are used to protect normal organs. You may be positioned using special holders, molds or boards.

It is extremely important to remain still during the radiation treatments. Breathe normally during treatments. You do not need to hold your breath. You will not feel anything during the treatment. Radiation is painless. You will not see, hear, or smell radiation.

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How Can I Manage Side Effects Of Cancer Treatment

If youre undergoing cancer treatment, talking with your healthcare provider can help you manage your side effects. Many people find that maintaining a healthy diet helps them feel better and stay stronger. You may also benefit from incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Be sure to clear any dietary changes and activities with your healthcare provider first.

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Are There Any Surgical Techniques That Have Been Developed To Improve Erectile Function Outcomes

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At this time, there are several different surgical approaches to carry out the surgery, including retropubic or perineal approaches as well as laparoscopic procedures with freehand or robotic instrumentation. Much debate but no consensus exists about the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. Further study is needed before obtaining meaningful determinations of the success with different new approaches.

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