Patient Information for Radiation Therapy
Below is important information for ALL patients to read who are receiving radiation therapy. Please take the time to read all of this information in its entirety.
Your cooperation is important for your comfort and the successful completion of therapy. Please read these instructions and follow them closely. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor or nurse.
Appointments will be arranged for your convenience when possible, during our business hours, Monday through Friday. If you cannot keep an appointment, please call us as soon as possible between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at 434.200.4010.
Skin areas involved in radiation therapy will be outlined with color markers. These marks are guidelines used in planning and carrying out your treatments.They must remain for the duration of treatment. DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE THEM unless instructed to do so.
DO NOT USE soap, ointments, deodorants, lotions or adhesive tape over the treated areas unless otherwise instructed by the nurses. Breast patients may use a non-metallic deodorant, Alra that is available at Lincare Medical if desired. YOU MAY SHOWER OR TAKE TUB BATHS UNLESS OTHERWISE INSTRUCTED, but do not scrub or vigorously wash treated areas. No perfumes or aftershave lotions are to be used while under treatment due to others that may have lung problems or allergies.
If the bearded area of the face is being treated, or if the underarm is being treated, you may shave only with an electric shaver. Do not use preshaving lotion such as Lectric Shave, or any after-shave lotion in the area being treated.
Protect all treated areas by wearing soft, non-binding clothing. Avoid rubbing, pressure, and irritation that could be caused by excessive use of rough clothing, starched collars, belts, bands, straps, trusses, girdles, corsets, metal stays or projections in underclothing.
DO NOT USE electric heating pads, hot water bottles, hot poultices, heat lamps, heat in any form, ice packs or ice caps to parts of the body treated with radiation. Electric blankets may be used. DO NOT EXPOSE treated skin to excessive sun, sunlamps, ultraviolet light, tape or any type of adhesives.
Avoid fatigue by getting plenty of rest. Many patients receiving radiation feel tired, which may be a sign you need more rest.
A well balanced, easily digested diet is recommended. Foods high in fats, such as meats may be difficult to digest. Certain patients will be placed on a special diet when necessary. Avoid vitamin pills and over-the-counter anti-oxidant pills while under treatment. Vitamin fortified supplements are fine.
If the mouth or throat area is being treated, there are restrictions on the use of gargles and mouthwashes. Most commercial gargles (Listerine, Lavoris, etc.) contain alcohol and astringents which will irritate irradiated tissues. Gargling is best done with a baking soda or salt solution (one teaspoon in 8 ounces of lukewarm water) or a 50/50 mixture of water and peroxide. Alcohol and tobacco products must also be avoided if the throat or mouth is being irradiated.
If the pelvic or abdominal area is being treated, no cathartics, laxatives, enemas, or other medications for the stomach and intestines may be used without checking with us first. Patients treated to the pelvic area should try to have a full bladder at the time of their daily treatment (unless otherwise directed), but not so full that it is uncomfortable.
Expect to stay a few minutes extra once a week to be weighed and checked by the doctor. A limited examination will usually be performed, and laboratory tests may be performed. You will have an opportunity to ask questions at that time. Notify the nurses of any medication changes at this visit. Of course, urgent matters can be discussed at any time. Please report a new pain or change in pain or concerns to the radiation therapist or nurse.
The technologist may make one or more tiny tattoo marks as a permanent record of the location of your treatment fields.This can be very useful if future treatments are ever required. To do this, a small pin prick is required, and the tattoo which is made is generally about the size of a small freckle.
Although there is a physician on call at all times, it is only a matter of courtesy that you restrict calls in the evenings or on weekends to emergencies. Difficulty breathing, confusion, fever, new or increasing pain are examples of emergencies. Phone calls simply for the sake of information, or to have a prescription refilled, can certainly be done during business hours, Monday through Friday.
It is very important to keep track of your medications, and if you are going to run out on a weekend, you should have them refilled beforehand.
On certain occasions, your phone call may first be answered by one of our nurses. If she cannot completely resolve your problems or answer your questions, she will contact the physician on call.
After completion of your treatments, we will see you for one or more follow-up examinations. Please bring your medicines or a list of the medicines to each follow-up visit. Kathleen Kennedy, nurse practitioner, provides most of the follow-up services for our patients. There is always a physician available to see you if there are any concerns requiring physician input. You should see your own physician for general medical care and to follow your condition. When you see other physicians during, or after these treatments, be sure to tell them about the radiation therapy you have received. We routinely send reports of your radiation treatments to all of your doctors that we feel may be involved in your care.
If any tests (i.e., x-rays, mammograms, blood tests, Pap smears, etc.) are performed, you will be notified if there is a problem with the test. We will not contact you if the results are normal; however, you are free to contact our office to check on any test results.
In the event that you need medical assistance when the office is closed, please follow these guidelines: If a life-threatening situation arises, please go to the nearest emergency room for immediate care. Explain to the doctor on duty that you are receiving radiation therapy, and he will contact us or one of your other doctors if any assistance is needed with your acute problem. Bringing your current medications with you will help.
If a problem arises which you feel is less than life-threatening, and it is too serious to wait until the office is open, please contact us through the answering service at the number provided at the beginning of these instructions. Quite often your problem can be solved by phone, but if not, other management of the problem can be arranged. Do not delay having a problem solved if waiting will make it significantly worse. If in doubt, please be safe, and get in touch.
You can help us do a better job by promptly reporting any change in condition, by telling us of any new medicines prescribed by your other doctors, and making any suggestions you have with your care.