Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is a treatment that uses radiation to kill cancer cells. This therapy can help cure some cancers or it can be used to stop or slow the growth of cancer. There are different ways you may get radiation therapy, external or internal. External beam radiation is given to you by a machine outside your body that carefully aims the radiation at the cancer cells. Internal radiation is different. This type of radiation is put inside your body either near or inside your cancer cells. Radiation may be your only cancer treatment or it may be given before, during or after other treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in using radiation therapy. This doctor and members of the radiation team will talk with you about your cancer diagnosis, the treatment that is best for you and what to expect during radiation therapy. Other members of your radiation team may include a nurse, radiation therapist dietitian, social worker or speech therapist. If you need external beam radiation, there will be some stickers the size of quarters or small marks put on your skin on one of your visits to the radiation therapy department. Do not remove these marks. They are used to make sure you are in the correct position for each treatment. External radiation treatments are most often given as an outpatient. Your radiation team will decide how many treatments you will need and how many times a week you will get your treatments. You will be asked to hold very still when you get your radiation. Your doctor may tell you that you need to have a body mold or mask made to keep you in place for the treatment. This will be explained to you, if this is needed. When you get your treatment, you will not feel, hear, see or smell the radiation. Wear loose comfortable clothes to your treatment. Do not wear any jewelry, powder lotion or deodorant. If you need internal radiation, Your doctor will give you more details about this therapy. There are different ways of getting internal radiation. You may need to stay in the hospital during this type of treatment. Radiation therapy may damage healthy cells near the tumor. This damage may cause side effects. The side effects will depend on the location of your cancer and the type of radiation given to you. It is important to tell your health care team if you have any of these side effects, so they can help to make you feel more comfortable. The most common side effects from radiation therapy include, feeling fatigued or tired and skin changes in the area of the radiation, such as a darkening of the skin color, dryness itching, peeling or blistering. Other possible side effects are diarrhea, loss of hair in the area where you are getting the radiation. Mouth problems which may include a sore mouth, dry mouth, changes in taste or trouble swallowing. You may feel sick to your stomach also called nausea or have vomiting. Treatment can cause you to lose weight. You may also have swelling in the area being treated. Side effects can also include, changes in your bladder and problems making urine. Sexual changes may also happen, which may include a decreased interest in sex or problems having sex. Radiation can cause changes in your fertility. It is important to talk to your doctor before you start radiation treatment if you plan to have children in the future. During and after your radiation, therapy you need to take good care of yourself. It is very important to go to all of your scheduled radiation treatments and other doctor’s appointments. Follow the directions your health care team has given you to help manage any side effects. Take special care of your skin, especially in the area where the radiation is being given. Use sunscreen, hats and wear long sleeves. Gently wash your skin and only use the lotions or creams your doctor prescribes. Choose clothes that have soft fabrics and are not tight to prevent rubbing. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night and rest often doing 15 to 30 minutes of gentle exercise each day may help you feel better. Drink eight to 10 eight-ounce glasses of non caffeinated fluid each day. This is very important especially if you have diarrhea. It can also help if you have problems with a dry mouth. Do not drink alcohol. Eating five or six small meals each day may help to control an upset stomach or diarrhea. Your health care team can give you a list of some foods to eat that may be helpful. In taking care of yourself, it is also important to be aware of your emotions. It is normal to feel alone, afraid, sad, angry or anxious. We know this can be a stressful time for you. Your health care team is available to give you support and to share ways to help you through this experience. We have already talked about how you can take care of yourself. Now let’s go over a few safety tips for family and friends who may be around you while you are getting radiation therapy. If you get external beam radiation, you are safe to be around other people, including children and babies. You are not radioactive. However, if you get internal radiation you may need to limit your time with others while the radiation is working in your body. Your doctor will talk with you about 0the safety measures you will need to follow. These might include, staying in a private hospital, room keeping visits very short or not having any visitors at all, especially visits from children or pregnant women. It is important to tell your health care team how you are feeling. There may be times when you need to call the doctor if something changes. A fever can be life-threatening for patients with cancer. Call your doctor right away if your temperature reaches one hundred point four degrees Fahrenheit or higher. You should also tell your doctor if you have a pain that does not go away, especially if this is a new pain or if you find new bumps, lumps, swelling. skin rashes, bruising or have bleeding. Call if you have symptoms that are new or getting worse, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. We encourage you to ask questions and tell us about your concerns so we can help meet your needs. Now, let’s review some important points we’ve covered in order to take the best care of yourself. You will need to go to all of your radiation treatments and other doctor’s appointments. Follow the directions you were given by your health care team to manage your side effects. Take special care of your skin. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Drink eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of non-caffeinated fluid each day. Do not drink alcohol. Eat five to six small meals each day. Talk to others who can provide you with emotional support. And last, you should call the doctor if you have a fever of one hundred point four degrees Fahrenheit or higher. You have pain that does not go away. If you find new bumps, lumps, swelling skin, rashes, bruising or bleeding. If you have symptoms that are new or getting worse, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation or with questions about any other symptoms. Our goal is to help you understand what to expect when getting radiation therapy at The James, and how to care for yourself during this time. Write down any questions you might have for your health care team and bring them with you to each appointment. We are honored to care for you during your radiation therapy. Thank you for choosing The James.