How to Prepare for Radiation Therapy

Preparing certain things in advance may help make your treatment less stressful. Before you go to the hospital, think through transportation, everyday life necessities and special needs.

  • Are there things I should not do the day of my procedure, e.g. use body lotions, hair creams or hair spray?
  • What about my nail polish, acrylic nails, jewelry, makeup?
  • Can I wear my eyeglasses or contacts during the procedure?
  • Can I eat or drink before my procedure?
  • Do I need any medications beforehand?
  • What should I wear for treatment? Do I need to change clothes?
  • Will I need a collar or brace before, during or after treatment?
  • Should I bring something to read or an activity for while I wait?
  • May I listen to music or books on tape?
  • Do I need someone to drive me to and from the hospital?
  • How long will I stay in the hospital?
  • Do I need to have someone at home, or have someone come stay with me to help for the first few weeks after my treatment?
  • What time of preparations should I do with my home?
  • Are there any special supplies, medicines or creams that I might need after treatment?
  • How soon before I may go out and resume normal activities?
  • When may I start to exercise?
  • Will I need rehabilitation or physical therapy?

You may be advised by your doctors and potentially the dietician on your cancer care team to follow a special diet before, during and after radiation therapy. Eating enough calories and protein may be advised in order to keep up your energy and weight during this time. You may find resources through your team’s dietitian or the National Cancer Institute that contain food and drink recommendations for your cancer regimen.