Q & A on Radiation Therapy with Elayne Arterbery, MD, radiation oncologist on staff at Crittenton
Q. What is radiation oncology?
A. This cancer care specialty uses radiation to kill or damage cancer cells so they can’t grow or spread. Sometimes radiation therapy alone is enough to effectively treat a cancer. But often it is used in conjunction with other treatments, like chemotherapy and surgery.
Q. What are the types of radiation therapy?
A. Like surgery, radiation therapy is used in several ways, depending on the type and location of the cancer. Special machines can deliver high doses of radiation from outside the body. This is called external beam radiation, and it is usually given over the course of several weeks. Patients can have the treatments as outpatients at the hospital or the Cancer Center.
Using metal or plastic implants, therapists can also place radioactive material inside the body as close to the tumor as possible. With another kind of internal radiation therapy, patients take a radioactive substance by mouth or injection, and the material moves through the body.
Q. Will I become radioactive?
A. Most radiation treatments won’t make you radioactive. Linear accelerators and other advanced technologies are delivering more precise radiation treatments than ever to spare healthy cells and minimize side effects. Talk with your doctor about any precautions you should take when getting radiation therapy, such as special shields to protect tissue surrounding the treatment area.
Q. Does it hurt?
A. Radiation treatments are painless and usually last only a few minutes.
If you have any questions you would like answered or to talk to a Crittenton doctor, call (248) 652-5000.