Radiation Oncology FAQs

FAQs

What is the difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy?

Chemotherapy involves medications given by injections or pills for cancer. This type of treatment is circulated throughout the entire body and is generally prescribed by a medical oncologist. Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is produced by a linear accelerator or another radiation source, and is prescribed by a radiation oncologist. The radiotherapy beams are focused on a very specific area of the body, and thus the effects are highly localized.

How long does a course of radiation therapy treatments usually last?

Most radiation therapy treatments are daily, five days per week, for a specified period of one to eight weeks, depending on the disease and the course that your physician prescribes.

Will my insurance cover radiation therapy services?

We accept most forms of insurance, including Medicare, with appropriate authorization. You may be responsible for a portion of the balance, depending on your coverage. Guthrie’s patient financial advocate can assist you and answer any questions you may have.

Will I feel anything after my radiation treatment?

Many patients continue with most of their normal activities during treatment — working, golfing, gardening, etc. Depending on the area being treated, however, there may be side effects including fatigue, nausea, “sun-burned” skin, or diarrhea. Your physician can discuss the likely side effects and prescribe medication for some conditions. Making certain that you are taking care of your body’s needs is very important. Maintaining your weight and getting adequate fluids and rest are important goals to consider.

Will I be able to drive after my radiation therapy treatment?

Almost all patients are able to drive while receiving radiotherapy treatment. However, with some types of cancer, driving may NOT be recommended due to fatigue or strong pain medication. Your physician will be able to address your specific case.

Should I take vitamins and/or medications while receiving treatment?

Good nutrition is important during your radiation treatments, and taking a multivitamin at this time is acceptable. Your physician will, however, need to be aware of all medication and/or herbal products that you are currently taking, including large doses of any one vitamin. In some cases, mega-vitamins may be harmful.

Will I feel any pain from the radiation treatment?

There is usually no pain associated with the radiation treatments. It is very much like having an X-ray taken. Sometimes a sunburn effect may cause the area to be tender. Keep your physician informed of any discomfort that you experience.

Is it a problem if I miss a treatment?

If you miss an appointment during your prescribed treatment, it will extend your treatment course by a day. We strongly recommend that you attempt to make all appointments as prescribed by your radiation oncologist. Keep in mind that the treatments are generally given Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Treatments are provided