External beam radiation therapy does not make you radioactive, and it is perfectly safe for you to be with and around other people, including children, throughout your treatment.
Radiation therapy is a local treatment, meaning it only affects the area of the body where the radiation is targeted. Unless your radiation treatment is targeted at an area where hair grows, such as your scalp or face, you will not lose your hair. People having radiation therapy for breast cancer may find their underarm hair will fall out if it is near the radiated area, however it will grow back in time.
This depends on where you are having treatment. If you are a woman having radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis, the amount of radiation absorbed by the ovaries will determine the potential impact on your fertility. Radiation to the pituitary gland may also influence fertility, as the pituitary gland normally signals the ovaries to ovulate. Radiation to both testes in men is rare, however if you require this therapy your fertility may be affected. Please speak with your radiation oncologist should you or your partner wish to become pregnant, or if you have fertility concerns.
It is important you are not pregnant or become pregnant at any time during radiation therapy, as x-rays for positioning can harm the foetus. If you think you may be pregnant at any time, it is extremely important to discuss this with a member of the radiation therapy team. If you wish to become pregnant after your treatment please discuss this with your radiation oncologist prior to commencing.
For men having radiation therapy to their pelvic region, it is advised that you do not father children during treatment. Radiation therapy may damage your sperm, which can lead to birth abnormalities. If you wish to father children after this treatment, please discuss this with your radiation oncologist prior to commencing.
These are predictable and the team will prepare and help minimise these for you. Our onsite nursing team are available to support you through any side effects that you may experience. It is important to remember that most side effects will resolve once treatment is completed. Side effects will discussed in details with your doctor in your treatment planning appointments.
If you have radiation therapy to your abdominal region, you may get an upset stomach and feel nauseated. This will usually resolve when your course of treatment is completed. If you notice you are feeling nauseated for a prolonged period of time, please inform our team so we can suggest ways to manage this.
Radiation therapy is scheduled over an extended period of time, usually from weeks to months, enabling sessions to be as short as possible and for healthy cells to recover. A treatment session may only last 10 to 15 minutes.
Chemotherapy works by killing cells that are rapidly dividing, such as cancer cells. As well as killing cancer cells, chemotherapy also kills normal cells that are rapidly dividing. However, unlike cancer cells, normal cells can repair the damage and can recover.
Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells. However, some healthy cells are also damaged, and it is this damage that causes many of the more common side effects of chemotherapy. Side effects vary depending on the drugs used and the individual person. Most are temporary and can be treated or managed.
Each person responds differently to chemotherapy, and this also applies to weight. Some people may lose weight, while others may gain weight. Your cancer may also affect your weight. If you have any concerns about your weight during treatment, please raise them with your doctor.
Some people receiving chemotherapy will lose their hair, depending on the type of drugs you receive. Your doctor or nurse will be able to tell you whether your particular treatment will cause hair loss.
Some vitamins and medicines can interfere with the effects of chemotherapy. Please provide your doctor with a list of the medicines you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medicines. If you start taking any new medicines during your treatment please let your doctor know.
It’s recommended you do some light exercise, such as walking, to help manage fatigue and improve well being. Studies have shown that exercising during your therapy is associated with an improved outcome.
Your ability to continue to work will depend on the nature of your work, your type of treatment and how well you feel during your treatment. Please discuss this with your doctor.
There may be certain activities you won’t be able to participate in during your treatment. This will depend on the treatment you are having, your diagnosis and your blood counts at the time. If you are unsure about whether you should take part in a particular activity, please speak with your doctor or nurse.
Chemotherapy can affect the production of blood cells in your body, including your white blood cells, which protect against infection. When your white blood cells are low, you are more at risk of developing a cold or infection. During this time, it’s important to avoid people who are unwell.
As treatment length and nature varies greatly between patients, costs of treatment also differ. If you would like information on the fees associated with the treatment you are to receive, please contact us or speak with one of the care team.
Radiation Therapy is generally an outpatient procedure, whereas Chemotherapy is frequently an inpatient procedure, therefore there are large differences between the billing methods used for these two forms of treatment. These rules are laid down by the government and health funds and are what determines your eligibility for coverage and the level of financial assistance available to you.