Cancer Counseling Hotline
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Understanding cancer, the treatment options and possible side effects can help you make informed choices for your child.
To better support your child through his or her treatment, it would help to have a better understanding of radiation therapy in general. For example, you might want to know what radiation therapy is, how it works, and how it will help your child.
Talk to your child’s radiation oncologist and his radiation therapy team to find out what you need to know. They will also discuss and help you understand the radiation therapy options (the type to be used), side effects, and potential benefits and risks.
For a better understanding on what happens before, during and after radiotherapy treatment, please see: What to Expect Before, During & After Radiation Therapy
Here are some answers to questions you might be asking:
Once you give your informed consent for your child to proceed with the radiation therapy, an appointment will be scheduled for your child to undergo a treatment simulation session.
This is needed to get details of your child’s anatomy and the location of the tumour, allowing the radiation oncologist and physicist to develop a customised treatment plan. The plan will define the treatment target areas, radiation dosage and distribution to ensure that the radiation beams are delivered accurately so as to minimise damage to surrounding healthy tissues. Sometimes, other scans like PET/CT or MRI may be done.
Your child will also be put through an immobilisation procedure, which ensures that he will be positioned in the same way for every treatment. To help him stay stationary, head and neck masks, or body moulds, may be crafted to fit comfortably while reducing body movement. Skin markings may also be done to ensure that the treatment areas are treated consistently throughout the entire course of the radiation therapy.
After he is put into position in the treatment couch, the radiation oncologist and/or therapist will leave the room just before the radiation therapy begins. The radiation oncologist and/or therapist, however, will continue to monitor your child visually through cameras from the control room, which is outside the treatment room, and can talk to your child through a speaker in the treatment room.
If your child is very young and does not feel comfortable staying in the treatment room alone (or finds it hard to stay still during treatment), he may have to be sedated. Talk to the radiation oncologist and/or anaesthetist to confirm if sedation is required.
Children usually receive radiation therapy once a day from Monday to Friday, and the entire course can last from one to six or seven weeks, depending on the treatment type and goal.
No, your child will not become radioactive after external beam radiation therapy. Any person receiving radiation therapy treatment will not become radioactive after treatment as the radiation gets absorbed into the body tissues without any lingering effect. It is absolutely safe for your child and for the people around him.
Some side effects of radiation therapy can be expected, though they may differ for different people. Common side effects include fatigue, decreased blood count, skin changes, and eating problems. Talk to your child’s radiation oncologist about what can be done to prevent or treat the general side effects and those specific to the area being treated. He may refer you to a certified dietitian who can guide you on how to ensure that your child gets enough nutrition.
You are your child’s secure base. To better support and journey with your child, you need to ensure your own well-being. This is important because how you handle the stress can affect your child’s behavioural, emotional and social adjustment:
|POSTED IN||Cancer Treatments|
|TAGS||cancer caregiver, cancer tips, common side effects of cancer treatment, managing emotions, radiotherapy (radiation therapy)|