Have a question about radiation treatment? Below is a list of frequently asked questions revolving around treatment.
Just as every patient is different, follow-up care varies. Your doctor will prescribe and schedule the follow-up care that you need. Don’t hesitate to ask about the tests or treatments that your doctor orders. Try to learn all the things you should do to take good care of yourself.
Following are some of the questions that you may want to ask your doctor after you have finished your radiation therapy:
A few patients need help to manage pain if it continues after radiation therapy. You should not use a heating pad or warm compress to relieve pain in any area treated with radiation. Mild pain medicine may be enough for some people. If you have severe pain, ask the doctor about prescription drugs or other methods of relief. Be as specific as possible when telling the doctor about your pain so you can get the best treatment for it. If you are unable to get relief from pain, you may want to talk with a doctor who is a pain specialist.
Because pain can be worse when you are afraid or worried, it may help to try relaxation exercises. Other methods such as hypnosis, biofeedback, and acupuncture may be useful for some cancer patients.
Patients who have had radiation therapy need to continue some of the special care used during treatment at least for a short while. For instance, you may have skin problems for several weeks after your treatments end. You should continue to be gentle with skin in the treatment area until all signs of irritation are gone. Don’t try to scrub off the marks in your treatment area. They will fade and wear away.
You may find that you still need extra rest while your healthy tissues are rebuilding. Keep taking naps as needed and try to get more sleep at night. You may need some time to test your strength, little by little, so you may not want to resume a full schedule of activities right away.
After treatment for cancer, you’re likely to be more aware of your body and to notice even slight changes in how you feel from day to day. The doctor will want you to report any unusual symptoms. If you have any of the problems listed below, tell your doctor at once:
Many people continue to work during radiation therapy, but if you have stopped working, you can return to your job as soon as you feel up to it, even while your radiation therapy is continuing. If your job requires lifting or heavy physical activity, you may need to change your activities until you have regained your strength.
When you are ready to return to work, it is important to learn about your rights regarding your job and health insurance. If you have any questions about employment issues, contact the Cancer Information Service or the American Cancer Society. They can help you find local agencies that respond to problems cancer survivors sometimes face regarding employment and insurance rights.
This material was taken from the booklet “Radiation Therapy and You” published by the National Institutes of Health.
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