print this page

Questions to Ask Before, During and After Radiation Therapy

Before Treatment

  • What type and stage of cancer do I have?
  • What is the purpose of radiation treatment for my type of cancer?
  • How will the radiation therapy be given? Will it be external beam or internal beam (brachytherapy)? What do the treatments feel like?
  • For how many weeks will I receive radiation? How many treatments will I receive per week?
  • What are the chances that radiation therapy will work?
  • Can I participate in a clinical trial? If so, what is the trial testing? What are my benefits and risks? 
  • What is the chance that the cancer will spread or come back if I do not have radiation therapy?
  • Will I need chemotherapy, surgery or other treatments? If so, in what order will I receive these treatments? How soon after radiation therapy can I start them?
  • How should I prepare for this financially?
  • What are some of the support groups I can turn to during treatment?
  • If I have questions after I leave here, who can I call?
  • Will radiation therapy affect my ability to have children?
  • Do you take my insurance?


During Treatment

  • How can I expect to feel during treatment and in the weeks following radiation therapy?
  • Can I drive myself to and from the treatment facility?
  • Will I be able to continue my normal activities?
  • What side effects may occur from the radiation and how are they managed?
  • Do I need a special diet during or after my treatment?
  • Can I exercise?
  • Can I have sex?
  • Can I smoke or drink alcohol?
  • Will side effects change my appearance?
    • If so, will the changes be permanent or temporary?
    • If temporary, how long will they last?
  • Is it safe to take vitamins during treatment?


After Treatment

  • How and when will you know if I am cured of cancer?
  • What are the chances that the cancer will come back?
  • How soon can I go back to my regular activities?
    • Work?
    • Sexual activity?
    • Aerobic exercise?
  • How often do I need to return for checkups?


More Questions to Ask Your Physician or Nurse


Here are some questions you might want to ask your doctor or nurse:


  • What kind of radiation therapy will I get?
  • How can radiation therapy help?
  • How many weeks will my course of radiation therapy last?
  • What kinds of side effects should I expect during my course of radiation therapy?
  • Will these side effects go away after radiation therapy is over?
  • What kind of late side effects should I expect after radiation therapy is over?
  • What can I do to manage these side effects?
  • What will you do to manage these side effects?
  • How can I learn more about radiation therapy?