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Radiation therapy - questions to ask your doctor

What to ask your doctor about radiation therapy; Radiotherapy - ask your doctor

You are having radiation therapy. This is a type of treatment that uses high-powered x-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. You may receive radiation therapy by itself or also have other treatments (such as surgery, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy) at the same time. Your health care provider may need to follow you closely while you are having radiation therapy. You will also need to learn how to care for yourself during this time.

Below are some possible questions you may want to ask your provider.


How many treatment sessions do I need?

Are there alternative treatment options?

Do I need someone to bring me in and pick me up after the radiation treatments?

What are the known side effects?

What will my skin look like after radiation treatment? How should I take care of my skin?

What daily activities do I have to limit?

Can I continue to work during treatment?

Can I go out in the sun?

Am I at risk for infections?

Am I at risk of bleeding?

Are there any medicines I should not take?

Do I need to use birth control?

What if I think I may be pregnant?

Will I be sick to my stomach or have loose stools or diarrhea?

Will my hair fall out? Is there anything I can do about it?

Will I have problems thinking or remembering things? Can I do anything that might help?

How should I take care of my mouth and lips?

What can I do about my fatigue?

When should I call the provider?

Related Information

Lung cancer - small cell
Colorectal cancer
Prostate cancer
Hodgkin lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Brain tumor - children
Metastatic brain tumor
Breast cancer
Testicular cancer
Brain tumor - primary - adults
Bleeding during cancer treatment
Dry mouth during cancer treatment
Eating extra calories when sick - adults
Oral mucositis - self-care
Abdominal radiation - discharge
Brain radiation - discharge
Breast external beam radiation - discharge
Chest radiation - discharge
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Pelvic radiation - discharge


National Cancer Institute website. Radiation therapy and you: support for people with cancer. Updated April 2021. Accessed December 27, 2022.

Zeman EM, Schreiber EC, Tepper JE. Basics of radiation therapy. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 27.


Review Date: 10/27/2022  

Reviewed By: David Herold, MD, Radiation Oncologist in Jupiter, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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