Radiation Oncology

Patient Resources

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8525

Radiation therapy can sound frightening, but we’re here to guide patients throughout their journey. From our dedicated team of physicians and therapists to dietitians and social services, we can help with any questions or concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors by damaging their DNA. If the cancer cell’s DNA is damaged beyond repair, it stops dividing and/or slowly starts dying. The cancer cells take days or weeks to die and will continue to do so after radiation treatment is over. 

There are two main types of radiation therapy: external beam and internal beam (brachytherapy).

What does radiation do to cancer?

When given in high doses, radiation slows the growth or kills cancer cells. At times, radiation is also used to treat symptoms caused by a tumor. 

How long does radiation therapy take to work?

It can take several days or weeks of treatment for cancer cells to start dying or shrinking. The cells continue to die for weeks/months after treatment has stopped.

What are the side effects of radiation therapy?

Everyone responds a little differently to radiation treatment. Some people have few side effects at all, while others have more. In part, it depends on what part of the body is receiving radiation. The most common side effect is fatigue. Other side effects include skin changes, swelling, mouth or taste changes, and stomach disturbances.  

Does radiation hurt?

No. Radiation treatment itself doesn’t hurt. It’s similar to getting an X-ray. 

Who decides how much radiation to give?

A patient's radiation oncologist will determine the dose of radiation and how frequently they’ll receive treatment.

What if the radiation hits healthy tissue?

Our technology allows us great precision when targeting tumors and our team works very carefully to spare surrounding healthy tissue during treatment. In addition, we look at spreading out treatments and balancing high enough doses of radiation to kill cancer cells, while limiting damage to healthy cells.

However, should healthy tissue receive radiation, it almost always recovers after treatment.

How do you know that a patient is in the right position for treatment?

To ensure proper positioning and provide support a patient may be set up with different “immobilization devices” for treatment. These devices are specific to the area being treated and may include custom molds under parts of the body, masks to hold the head, or other simple tools to assist with keeping the hands, arms, or legs in the best place for safe and accurate treatment.

What is total body irradiation?

Total body irradiation is when radiation is given to the entire body. It is primarily given in preparation for bone marrow transplantation.

What happens when radiation treatments are done?

After a patient has completed all their treatments, they will need regular check-ups so the doctor can see how well the treatment worked and check for any late side effects (side effects that present themselves six months or longer after treatment). In addition, patients will be able to ask questions and talk about any concerns. 

Resources by Type of Cancer

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Breast Cancer

Active Breathing Coordinator Machines

We have two Active Breathing Coordinator (ABC) machines used to monitor patients requiring breast/chest wall and lymph node treatments. This video will help you understand what to expect.

Central Nervous System Cancer

  • Radiation treatment for patients with brain cancer (EnglishSpanish)
  • End-of-treatment FAQ for brain cancer patients (English)

Gastrointestinal Cancer

  • Radiation treatment for patients with upper gastrointestinal cancer (EnglishSpanish)
  • Radiation treatment for patients with lower gastrointestinal cancer (EnglishSpanish)
  • End-of-treatment FAQ for upper gastrointestinal cancer patients (English)
  • End-of-treatment FAQ for lower gastrointestinal cancer patients (English)

Genitourinary Cancer

Bladder Cancer

  • Radiation treatment for patients with bladder cancer (EnglishSpanish)

Prostate Cancer

Testicular Cancer

  • Radiation treatment for patients with testicular cancer (EnglishSpanish)

End-of-treatment FAQ for genitourinary cancer patients (English)

Gynecological Cancer

  • Radiation treatment for patients with gynecological cancer (EnglishSpanish)
  • High-dose brachytherapy with cylinder implant (EnglishSpanish)
  • High-dose brachytherapy with interstitial implant (EnglishSpanish)
  • High-dose brachytherapy with tandem and ovoid implant (EnglishSpanish)
  • End-of-treatment FAQ for gynecological cancer patients (English)

Head and Neck Cancer

  • Radiation treatment for patients with head and neck cancer (EnglishSpanish)
  • End-of-treatment FAQ for head and neck cancer patients (English)

Lung Cancer

Lymphoma

  • End-of-treatment FAQ for lymphoma cancer patients (English)

Pediatric Cancer

  • End-of-treatment FAQ for pediatric cancer patients (English)

Skin Cancer

  • End-of-treatment FAQ for skin cancer patients (English)

Treatment Preparation Resources

Support Services

Imerman Angels

In conjunction with the Cancer Center, we are happy to announce a unique program for our patients. The Imerman Angels program partners individuals seeking cancer support with a "mentor angel." Whether you are a current cancer fighter, survivor, or caregiver, they team you up with one-on-one support. Learn more about Imerman Angels