Q: What is radiation therapy?
A: Radiation therapy is a medical procedure in which
high-energy x-rays are used to gradually kill cancer cells so that
they are unable to grow, multiply, and spread. Radiation changes
the genetic material (DNA) in cancer cells. When these cells try
to reproduce, they die. Because that step does not happen right
away in all cells, radiation therapy benefits continue even after
the treatments have ended.
Q: Is Advanced ROS part of Nyack Hospital?
A: Advanced ROS is an independently owned and operated
facility offering outpatient radiation therapy. Our location within
Nyack Hospital’s Union State Bank Cancer Care Center can facilitate access to other cancer-related services for some
patients. Services like radiology, nuclear medicine, and a full
range of cancer support services are just a hallway away, if needed
on an individual basis.
Q: What is the difference between radiation therapy
A: Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are two different
modalities of cancer treatment.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells with high energy x-rays produced
by a machine or by implanted radioactive material. It affects only
the cancer cells in the treated areas of the body and side effects
are usually limited to that area. A Radiation Oncologist provides
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs delivered directly
into the bloodstream that kill cancer by damaging cancer cell enzyme
systems or reproductive mechanisms. It can affect cancer cells almost
anywhere they exist in the body, and side effects from chemotherapy
are systemic throughout the body. A Medical Oncologist provides
Q: Can’t radiation kill healthy cells, too?
A: Yes, but most healthy cells can recover from the
effects of radiation and function properly. Cancer cells have an
abnormally rapid growth cycle and radiation only affects cells that
are actively growing. Because the growth cycle of healthy cells
is much slower than that of cancer cells, normal tissues have more
time to recover from the radiation. The use of advanced equipment
and an individualized treatment plan helps to aim the radiation
beams very precisely at the tumor while sparing the healthy tissue
Q: Will radiation therapy make me radioactive?
A: External radiation therapy that is delivered from
a machine outside the body will not make the patient radioactive.
Radiation is not “stored” in the body, and patients
do not need to avoid being around other people because of the treatment.
Internal Radiation Therapy (Brachytherapy) that involves
placing radioactive sources into or near the organ affected by cancer
will not make a patient permanently radioactive. Some brachytherapy
patients are treated in a protected room where the radiation source
is removed at the end of each treatment. If a permanent implant
procedure is used, as in prostate seed brachytherapy, your body
may give off a small amount of radiation for a short time after
Q: How many treatments will I receive and how long
does the whole process last?
A: Each treatment plan is highly individualized, so
your treatment schedule will depend on your specific plan. Treatment
is usually given in small doses so that the body can better tolerate
the effects of the total amount of radiation needed to treat the
cancer. Most patients receiving external radiation therapy are treated
once a day, five days a week, for two to eight weeks. Treatment
appointments may last from 15 to 30 minutes but the actual treatment
time is only a few minutes.
Q: Will I be able to get my treatments at the same
time every day?
A: We always try to schedule your treatments at the
same time every day. Initially, you may have to come at a time that
may not be the most convenient for you, but your radiation therapist
will try to schedule regular appointments at a more convenient time
as more time slots become available.
Q: What do I have to do during treatment? Will I feel
A: All you have to do is lie still on the treatment
table and relax. You will not feel anything at all during treatment.
Q: What side effects might I have, and how long will
A: Radiation therapy only affects the cells in the
area of the body being treated, so potential side effects are usually
limited to that area. Most side effects are mild and go away a few
weeks after treatment has ended. Different patients react very differently
to treatment. Some patients feel tired after treatment, but some
don’t. A minor skin reaction is fairly common. The more sophisticated
the treatment techniques and technology being used, the milder will
be the side effects. Your doctor will review with you in detail
any potential side effects you may experience for your unique situation. For more information about what to expect in
the way of side effects, listed by part of the body being treated,