For many years, radiation therapy has been used to treat various forms of cancer and is still considered one of the most effective treatments today for brain cancer. This form of treatment uses a focused beam of radiation to target tumors or certain sets of cancer cells in the brain. If you have been diagnosed with brain cancer and have been prescribed the form of treatment, you are bound to be a little apprehensive about the process. To get you prepared for what lies ahead, here are a few things you should expect going into radiation therapy for brain cancer treatment.
Radiation therapy only takes a few minutes.
It is a common misconception that the radiation treatments for brain cancer are lengthy treatments that take a lot of time, but that is not the case. You will likely only be given radiation for a few minutes during each treatment. Your appointments can take a bit due to waiting for your turn in the radiation room and getting prepared for the procedure. Most patients find that radiation treatments fit into their schedule easily and do not take up a lot of their time.
Radiation therapy can temporarily exacerbate symptoms of a brain tumor.
If you are having radiation therapy because of a brain tumor, you should know that immediately after therapy, your symptoms can be slightly intensified. This is because the radiation therapy causes slight brain swelling, which is usually treated with medications. However, this slight swelling can put more pressure on the turn and on your brain, which means your usual symptoms, such as disorientation or motor skill changes can be a little more intense temporarily. Because of this, it is crucial that you bring someone with you to your treatment appointments who can help you right after your appointment.
Radiation therapy will probably cause hair loss.
Depending on the duration of treatments for your brain cancer, you will likely lose at least some of your hair. In some cases, hair loss can be permanent if you receive ongoing treatments. This happens because the radiation affects the hair follicles in your scalp. Some patients will start to lose hair after only a few treatments, and others may not lose their hair until they have received severela treatments. Your hair may come out only in patches or it may come out all over, depending on the targeted area during your treatment.