Questions to ask about radiation therapy
The following are questions that you can ask the healthcare team about radiation therapy treatment. Choose the questions that fit your, or your child’s, situation and add questions of your own. You may find it helpful to take the list to the next appointment and to write down the answers.
- What is radiation therapy?
- What are the benefits and risks of having radiation therapy?
- When will radiation therapy be given? Is there a waiting list for radiation therapy?
- What type of radiation therapy is used for this cancer?
- How is radiation therapy given? How often? Over what period of time?
- Where will the treatment take place?
- Does radiation therapy require a hospital stay? If so, for how long?
- Can a support person (such as a partner, parent or friend) stay during radiation therapy?
- What are the chances it will be successful? When will we know?
- Is any preparation needed for radiation therapy?
- What tests are done during radiation therapy?
- Will other treatments (like chemotherapy) be used at the same time?
- Will any vitamins or over-the-counter drugs (for example, Tylenol) affect radiation therapy?
- What are possible side effects of radiation therapy? When would they start? How long do they usually last?
- What side effects should I report right away? Who do I call?
- What can be done to treat side effects?
- Is a special diet needed?
- Are there special things that I should or should not do during and after radiation therapy?
- Will radiation therapy affect usual activities? If so, for how long?
- Will there be other treatments after radiation therapy? If so, what kind?
- When are follow-up visits scheduled? Who is responsible for follow-up after radiation therapy?
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.