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 (TBI) is when radiation is given to the entire body. It is primarily given in preparation for bone marrow transplantation. What to expect with TBI. (Spanish)

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. 

Simulation Visit

Aurelie Garant, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and Director of Brachytherapy Program, discusses what you can expect during your simulation visit prior to your radiation treatments.

Treatment Machines

Prep and During Treatment

Side Effects

Nutrition Resources

Introduction to Support Services at Simmons Cancer Center

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