Is Radiation Therapy Safe?
Some patients worry about the safety of radiation therapy. Radiation has been used successfully to treat patients for more than 100 years (read about the history of radiation therapy). In that time, many advances have been made to ensure that radiation therapy is safe and effective. Before you begin receiving radiation therapy, your radiation oncology team will carefully design your plan to make sure that you receive safe and accurate treatment. The medical phycisist in the center works with the radiation oncologist to develop an extensive safety and quality assurance plan to ensure that every patient receives the right treatment in the safest possible way, each and every time.
Treatment will be carefully planned to focus on the cancer while avoiding healthy organs in the area. Throughout your treatment, members of your team check and recheck your plan. Special computers are also used to monitor and double-check the treatment machines to make sure that the proper treatment is given.
If you undergo external beam radiation therapy, you will not be radioactive after treatment ends because the radiation does not stay in your body. However, if you undergo brachytherapy, tiny radioactive seeds will be implanted into your body either temporarily or permanently.
Your radiation oncologist will explain any special precautions that you or your family may need to take for a short time following treatment.
If you are very interested in the technical aspects of radiation, here are some questions you may want to ask your radiation oncologist about the quality assurance at the clinic where you will be receiving therapy.
Here is also some information regarding the American Society for Radiation Oncology's commitment to patient safety.