Good to know
You probably still have a lot of questions about radiotherapy. You will find some answers in the following regarding the procedure as well as safety, side effects, skincare, diet and activities.
The radiation dose, the exact radiation region, as well as the appropriate radiation technique are established in a radiation plan.
This is based, among other things, on a planning computer tomograph. Contrast agents are not necessary for the CT examination. The radiotherapist establishes the exact target volume. An individual therapy concept is established for the patient in collaboration with physicists and in consultation with urologists, oncologists, pathologists and radiologists.
Just like an X-ray, you do not feel the radiation (see also Principle of Radiation Therapy). Do not worry about the noise from the linear accelerator. This noise is normal. Once you are lying correctly, you should try to remain still and relax. Even when the radiotherapy team is outside the room, we can see you and hear you at all times and can shut down the radiation if necessary. Don't forget: bring your own towel to each radiotherapy session so that you can lie warm and comfortable. If you forget your towel, we will be happy to lend you one.
All linear accelerators are equipped with numerous "safety valves". This means that the devices only release the radiation when the size of the field, the radiation angle and the irradiation time agree with the specified data. The irradiation is not started or is immediately stopped if there are even minimum deviations.
There is only radiation when the device is switched on. You yourself will not become radioactive, even with radioactive implants (brachytherapy). This is also completely harmless for the people around you.
Despite modern technology and a therapy plan coordinated on all sides, it is not always possible to avoid side effects. Most side effects such as fatigue syndrome or reddening of the skin are temporary. If you do have any side effects, inform the staff or your doctor. There is a wide range of measures and drugs available to ease these side effects. Before radiotherapy begins you will receive plenty of information about what you can do yourself to prevent acute and chronic side effects.
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are not inevitable side effects of radiotherapy. They occur in particular when a tumour in the stomach region is irradiated. Head and beard hair usually fall out if the skull, mouth or throat have to be irradiated. It depends on the arrangement of the radiation fields, the radiation dose and the individual sensitivity to radiation whether and to what extent side effects occur.
- In consultation with the doctor, the skin can be washed briefly with a mild soap (no baths).
- The skin should be kept clean and dry. Avoid heavy rubbing or massage.
- Avoid tight clothing that might irritate the skin. Better: clothing in cotton rather than synthetic materials.
- Not allowed in the radiation phase: hot cushions, infrared light, hot water bottles, ice packs, sauna, solarium, swimming and, as applicable, wet shaving and deodorants.
We recommend a healthy, mixed diet with frequent small meals. You should always try to keep your weight during the radiotherapy. In the case of radiotherapy on the bowel or the prostate, bloating foods are not allowed. Avoid spicy and sour foods. In the case of radiotherapy on head-throat tumours or for lung cancer, we recommend soft, mild, lukewarm foods.
If you have a balanced diet, it is not absolutely necessary to take multivitamin supplements, but there is no reason not to. We do, however, advise against taking high doses of individual vitamins such as vitamin A, C or E as this can influence the effect of the radiation under certain circumstances.
If you find your responses are temporarily affected by the radiotherapy, we advise against driving a car or operating machinery that requires concentration. Insofar as you are not putting yourself or anyone else at risk, you can do anything you want that is not too much of a strain. Be realistic about which activities are good for you and which you it might be better to avoid for the moment. .
If you have any questions, ask a member of staff or your GP.
– Deutsche Krebshilfe
– Bundesverband Prostatakrebs