Radiation Therapy - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Southern Tasmania Area Health ServicesTasmanian Health Service - Southern Region

Radiation Therapy - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often do I need to come for treatment?

You will have your treatment daily for as long as prescribed by your doctor. Treatment is only Monday to Friday and not on public holidays. In some cases treatment is given once, twice,  three or four times a week, more than once daily or over a weekend or public holiday.

How long does treatment take?

Allow 18 minutes for your first appointment, and 12 minutes for every appointment thereafter.  For some patients the time allocated will be longer than this.

Does radiation therapy hurt?

You will not feel anything when you have radiation therapy treatment.  The machine will make a buzzing noise but it is just like having a normal x-ray, just a little longer.

Will the treatment make me sick?

Radiation therapy treatment is localised and only affects the area that is being treated. For example if the stomach is being treated it may cause some nausea or vomiting and if the rectum or bowel is being treated it could cause diarrhoea. Our nursing staff will arrange medication to manage these side-effects.

Will I lose my hair?

Radiation therapy treatment is localised and only affects the area that is being treated.  Hair loss will only occur if the scalp is directly treated.

Will I be radioactive?

No.  When the treatment machine is switched off, the radiation stops, inside and outside the body.

Can I hold children?

It is perfectly safe to be around children, babies and pregnant women while you are having your course of radiation therapy treatment.

Can I still work?

Yes.  The treatment may make you feel tired, but you are able to continue work if you wish.

Can I drive?

The treatment may make you feel tired, but you are able to continue driving if you feel up to it.  Patients undergoing radiation therapy to the brain are not allowed to drive.  Some patients may be prescribed a calmative drug and this will prevent them driving to and from treatment.

Can I bath or shower?

Yes. Some ingredients in soaps and shampoos can react with the radiation treatment and cause your skin to become red and sore. Our nursing staff will let you know which brands are safe to use when you commence treatment.

Can I swim?

You can swim in fresh or salt water, but not in chlorinated pools.

If you have any further questions, feel free to email or contact the clinic on (03) 6166 8000.