I was chatting to the ladies who work in the breast unit on what they thought were patients’ concerns of late. It turns out it’s radiation! This inspired me to chat to one of our radiation oncologists to get the low down on frequently asked questions asked by patients.
Remember: Radiation Therapy hugely contributes to the prevention of any abnormal cells (that could be there) from becoming a cancer.
By the time you get radiation you may well have been treated for nine months to a year, but see this as ‘the icing on the cake.’ You have had chemotherapy and surgery (the cake), and with this treatment, for very little effort, you stand to gain a lot!
This is an outpatient treatment. Therefore, book at a clinic close to where you either work or live – you can usually work a full day after treatment too. Never stress about the location, chat with your doctor.
When your first consultation is booked with the doctor, it may not be at the same location of your treatment. The doctors consulting rooms are generally in one or maybe two places, but your treatment is planned at the department where your therapy takes place.
I think we all imagine the James Bond 007 laser beam that the baddies use, but in fact the planning of radiation is fascinating and very high-tech – it definitely doesn’t send a red beam around the room zapping people. Radiation is highly targeted. You are basically buying a ‘computer programme’ to that specific machine that is individualised to you. You cannot move your treatments from the machine you start at, as this would require you to ‘buy’ another programme.
The amount of sessions is individualised to each patient and this will be explained by your doctor.
Side-effects of radiation for breast cancer is minimal. Don’t stress over skin problems! As mentioned earlier due to the length of time you have already been undergoing treatment, you may well feel fatigued, about 90% of patients experience this tiredness. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you have been through a lot!!
Radiation is painless and does not require any form of anaesthesia. The best way to prepare yourself for radiation therapy is to get lots of rest, eat a balanced /nutritional diet and use any creams or lotions given to you by your team.
Written By Julie Belloni.