Frequently Asked Questions about Radiation Treatment for Cancer
When you rely on Rahway Regional Cancer Center to treat your case of cancer, you can expect nothing but the full attention of innovative, board-certified radiation oncologist Dr. Eric Karp and the RRCC team of medical professionals, as well as the best cancer treatment options in New Jersey, including radiation therapy. Learn more about what you can expect when you undergo radiation treatment for cancer in our FAQ.
What is radiation therapy, and how does it treat cancer?
Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill, or slow the growth of, cancer cells and shrink tumors in a designated area of your body. When the DNA of the cancer cells is damaged by the radiation waves, they stop growing and spreading, or die completely. One radiation treatment alone does not often kill all of the active cancer cells, as it can take days and even weeks for these cells to be removed from the body. Because of this, several appointments for radiation therapy may be necessary.
The type of radiation therapy you receive also depends on a number of factors, including the type of cancer, tumor size, the location of the cancer cells or tumor in your body, your current state of health, medical history and other factors. The RRCC team will work closely with you to determine the best treatment for your cancer.
What will I experience during treatments?
Similar to receiving an X-ray, radiation therapy does not hurt and you won’t see or feel anything during treatment. However, side effects of the treatments may develop over time – see below for more information on side effects.
How long will I undergo radiation treatments?
With help from decades of industry expertise, Dr. Karp will determine how long you will undergo treatments depending on different factors, including the size and location of the cancer. Each radiation treatment only lasts from 15 to 30 minutes.
What are the effects of radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy can cause damage to healthy cells nearby the cancer cells, which can unfortunately cause a number of side effects. Though dependent on your type of cancer, the most common side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss
- Swelling and tenderness
- Diarrhea, urinary and bladder changes
- Skin changes
In many cases, Dr. Karp can suggest lifestyle and diet modifications to ease side effects and can discuss ways to make your treatment more comfortable.
How should I prepare for my first treatment?
Bring medical records, test results and any other documents pertaining to your case of cancer with you to your first radiation treatment. You can expect one of our licensed radiation therapists to administer your treatment and answer any questions you might have about radiation treatment for cancer, ensuring you feel as comfortable as can be throughout the process.
Do I need to change my lifestyle during treatment?
Most patients are able to continue doing the things they love without worry during treatment, whether that’s an exercise regimen, going to work each day or spending time with family. Side effects may impact your energy levels and overall sense of wellness, but Dr. Karp can address any necessary modifications to your lifestyle or diet should problems arise.
Can I bring a friend or family member?
Many patients are comforted by knowing someone is by their side during treatment, and you may feel increasing fatigue as your course of treatment continues. Because we’ve developed an intimate understanding of the trials of treatment, we encourage patients to bring a loved one to appointments if they prefer. However, your companion will need to remain in the waiting room during your treatment.
How will I pay for my treatments?
RRCC accepts most forms of insurance, and our insurance information can help you determine whether yours will be accepted. However, it’s possible that you’ll be responsible for a portion of the cost of treatment, so be sure to consult with your insurance provider to determine your levels of coverage and associated costs.
For questions about billing, insurance claims and other financial aspects of treatment, our onsite Financial Advocate, Mary Capasso, is available at 732-382-5550 to provide guidance and address your concerns.
How can I get to my appointments?
Patients driving themselves or arriving with a family member or friend will find ample free parking at our Rahway facility. Should you require transportation assistance, RRCC provides free door-to-door shuttle service for patients – call 732-382-5550 and speak with Carol, our Front Desk Assistant, for more information.
Lean on Rahway Regional Cancer Center
Learning that you or someone you love has cancer can cause anxiety and confusion. At Rahway Regional Cancer Center, Dr. Karp and his dedicated staff will be by your side every step of the way, through radiation treatments to recovery. If you have questions or concerns, please call (732) 382-5550. We are always there to answer your call!