Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat and manage cancer.

Understanding your radiation therapy treatment can help you prepare, and reduce any anxiety you may be feeling and concerns you may have. We encourage you to speak to your doctor for advice tailored to your cancer and treatment plan.

Please send us a message if you would like more information about being treated at Icon.

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, uses radiation to safely treat and manage cancer by destroying cancer cells, reducing the growth and spread of cancer or relieving cancer symptoms.

Radiation therapy attacks cancer cells and limits damage to healthy cells, as cancer cells are more sensitive to radiation.

When small doses of radiation are provided over a period of days and weeks, normal cells can recover from the radiation, but cancer cells cannot

Radiation is typically painless, similar to having an x-ray, and is targeted to the part of the body being treated.

How is radiation therapy delivered?

Icon uses evidence-based radiation therapy techniques and technology to deliver accurate radiation to tumours and treat all cancer types of various size, type and location.

Radiation therapy can be your sole cancer treatment, or provided in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy, hormones and surgery. The treatment is a relatively quick process lasting only a few minutes and generally provided as an outpatient service.

Treatment is usually provided each day (Monday to Friday) over a number of weeks, which allows the radiation to target cancer cells and provides healthy cells with enough time to recover over the weekend. Your course of radiation therapy is unique to you and your cancer, depending on the location and stage of your disease, type of cancer, age and general health.

Radiation doesn’t make you radioactive and it’s safe for you to be around other people, including children and pregnant woman.

Side effects of radiation therapy

Since radiation therapy is targeted to a specific area of your body, you will only experience side effects in this area.

Your radiation oncologist and treatment team will discuss the type of side effects you may experience before your treatment begins.

Two to three weeks after your radiation therapy begins, you may experience skin redness, dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling. These skin reactions may last throughout your treatment, and will usually resolve a few weeks after treatment has finished. Sometimes these effects may worsen towards the end of treatment and for up to two weeks after your treatment ends.

Another common side effect you may have during your treatment is fatigue, a feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy. As you reach the end of your treatment, your fatigue may worsen. Every person is affected by fatigue in different ways, which may also depend on whether you are receiving other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. Fatigue usually resolves a few weeks after the completion of your treatment. To best manage your fatigue, it’s important to find a balance between rest and activity.

Although most side effects are temporary and resolve after your radiation therapy has finished, there is a possibility that long-term effects may occur. Please discuss with your radiation oncologist as he/she is the best person to provide more details and this will be covered in the consent process before you start your treatment.

At Icon, we’re here to help you manage any side effects that you may have. Please talk to your care team about any side effects you are experiencing.

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