Understanding Radiation Therapy
You’ve been told you have cancer. You’ve looked at your treatment options, and you and your doctor have agreed that radiation therapy is your best choice – either alone or along with another treatment. Now you may have questions about radiation treatment.
The American Cancer Society knows you may have concerns about radiation therapy, and we have answers to some of your questions. Remember that, along with reading about your treatment, you can also count on your doctor and nurse to answer your questions.
At the end of this document, you will find a glossary that defines words and terms used by your health care team. The words that are in italics the first time they are used are also in the glossary. You can use the glossary to help you better understand the talks you have with your health care team. Open and honest talks with your cancer care team are the best way to understand what is going on with you, your body, and the cancer.
- What is radiation therapy? When is it used?
- How does radiation therapy work?
- Do the benefits of radiation therapy outweigh the risks and side effects?
- How much does radiation treatment cost?
- Who gives radiation treatments?
- Informed consent for radiation therapy
- How is radiation therapy given?
- External radiation therapy
- Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy)
- Systemic radiation therapy
- Preventing and managing side effects of radiation therapy
- Common side effects of radiation therapy
- Long-term side effects of radiation therapy
- Managing side effects of radiation treatment to certain parts of the body
- Radiation therapy to the head and neck
- Radiation therapy to the brain
- Radiation therapy to the breast
- Radiation therapy to the chest
- Radiation therapy to the stomach and abdomen
- Radiation therapy to the pelvis
- Follow-up care after radiation therapy
- Radiation therapy glossary
- To learn more