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Radiation therapy - what to ask your doctor

Definition

You are having radiation therapy to try to kill cancer cells. You may receive radiation therapy alone or also have other treatments. Your doctor or nurse may need to follow you closely while you are having radiation therapy. You will also need to learn how to care for yourself during this time.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about radiation therapy

Questions

What will my skin look like after radiation treatments? How should I take care of my skin?

  • Can I put creams or lotions on it?
  • Will I have skin sores? How should I treat them?
  • Can I remove the marks on my skin that the doctor or technician made?
  • Will my skin hurt?
  • Can I go out in the sun?

Am I at risk for infections?

  • What foods should I avoid?
  • Is my water at home okay to drink? Are there places I should not drink the water?
  • Can I go swimming?
  • What should I do when I go to a restaurant?
  • Can I be around pets?
  • What immunizations do I need? Which immunizations should I stay away from?
  • Is it okay to be in a crowd of people? Do I have to wear a mask?
  • Can I have visitors over? Do they need to wear a mask?
  • When should I wash my hands?

Am I at risk for bleeding? Is it okay to shave? What should I do if I cut myself or start bleeding?

Do I need to use birth control?

What should I be eating to keep my weight and strength up?

Will I be sick to my stomach or have loose stools or diarrhea? How long after I receive my radiation treatment before these problems may start? What can I do if I am sick to my stomach or have diarrhea often?

How should I take care of my mouth and lips?

  • How can I prevent mouth sores?
  • How often should I brush my teeth? What type of toothpaste should I use?
  • What can I do about dry mouth?
  • What should I do if I have a mouth sore?

Is it okay to be out in the sun? How about cold weather?

What can I do about my fatigue?

When should I call the doctor?


Review Date: 3/5/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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