Monthly Archives: March 2016

You Ask, We Answer: Radiation Therapy Basics

By Jacqueline Brown, MSN, OCN, CBCN

Man Receiving Radiation Therapy for Cancer

As an oncology nurse information specialist at the American Cancer Society, part of my job is to help answer patients’ questions through our free 24-hour cancer information service. Many patients and caregivers call us with questions about treatment – including radiation therapy. When it comes to radiation, there are 4 questions in particular that seem to be the most common. As part of our new “You Ask, We Answer” series, I’ll give you answers to these 4 frequently asked questions about radiation treatment.

First, let’s go over a little background on radiation. When a doctor finds cancer, he or she may suggest several different treatments to get you healthy again. Many times, the first step may be to remove the cancer by surgery during an operation. But it is very common to use additional cancer treatments after surgery to improve the long- term success rate. These additional treatments are called “adjuvant,” meaning they are used after the primary treatment. They may be chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal, targeted or immune therapies.

Radiation is a common adjuvant therapy, so let’s dig into answering the most common questions patients and families ask our cancer team about this type of treatment.… Continue reading →