What To Do Before Radiation Therapy

If you and your doctor have decided that radiation therapy is the right option for you, you will begin with an extended meeting with your doctor or nurse to prepare. During this meeting, you will have a physical exam, talk about your medical history and potentially have some imaging tests done. You and your doctor can discuss external beam radiation therapy, the benefits and side effects during this meeting.

By informing yourself as much as you can before the meeting, you will feel more confident about your options and what will happen during the therapy and how to make your recovery as manageable and positive as it can be.

Get to know your full cancer care team, also called your radiation therapy team. This multi-disciplinary team usually consists of a radiation oncologist, nurse practitioner, radiation nurse, radiation therapist, and others like a dietician, physical therapist and social worker.

Prior to treatment, you will also meet with a radiation oncologist and radiation therapist to define the treatment area using scans. They might also put permanent marks – dots of colored ink – on your skin to mark the treatment area.

Most importantly, the team includes you and your role is very important. The best way to prepare for treatment is to increase your knowledge of the procedure and follow the guidelines set by your cancer care team.

Ask questions so you understand exactly what will happen before, during and after the treatment:

  • In what form and how often will the treatment be given?
  • How long will each treatment take?
  • How long with the entire course of treatment last?
  • Who will administer my treatment?
  • What will it feel like to get treated?
  • Will there be tests during my treatment to determine if it is working?
  • Are there any activities I should or should not do while I’m going through treatment?
  • How can I tell if treatment is working?
  • Is the machine noisy?
  • What happens when treatment finishes?
  • Can I drive to and from my treatment?
  • Will I need someone to stay with me at my appointments?
  • Can I go home right away or do I wait and if so, how long?

Talk about any concerns you may have regarding your treatment:

  • Is this a frame-based or frameless treatment?
  • How early to I need to arrive if I have to have the frame attached?
  • Does the frame hurt when it’s attached? If I have more than one treatment, how do they attach the frame each time?
  • Does it hurt to have the mask molded to my face for the frameless treatment?
  • Will I have more diagnostic images on the day of my treatment?
  • Will I be able to talk during treatment?
  • What happens if I move during treatment?
  • Are my eyes protected during treatment?
  • Will I see the radiation beam during treatment?
  • How safe is radiation treatment?
  • How many brain tumors do you treat every week or year with radiation?

Arrive on time for all your radiation sessions

Having a clear picture of the treatment process, the recovery period and living long-term with a brain tumor or effects from brain tumor treatment will aid in your recovery.