©2019 by Northwest Sarcoma Foundation.

HOW IS THE TREATMENT GIVEN?

Radiation therapy treatment is given in the hospital radiation therapy department.

Radiation therapy for symptoms is often given over a small number of treatments so that you do not have to keep coming back to the hospital. Most commonly, radiation therapy is given once daily, for a few weeks or days. Occasionally, for Ewing's sarcoma radiation therapy may be given before and after chemotherapy. This is sometimes called 'concurrent chemo-radiation therapy'. With this type of treatment, you may be given radiation therapy more than once a day. You may hear your doctor call this hyperfractionated radiation therapy.

Planning your treatment

Radiation therapy is carefully planned. At your first visit you will lie under a large machine called a simulator. The doctor uses this to work out where to give your treatment to kill the most cancer cells and miss as much healthy body tissue as possible. A pinprick tattoo is made on your skin and this is used to line up the radiation therapy machine every day when you have your treatment. Sometimes more marks are made with felt pen. If so, you must be careful not to wash them off!

Having treatment

The actual treatment only takes a few minutes. The radiographer will help position you on the couch and make sure you are comfortable. You will be left alone for the minute or two the machine is switched on. But the staff will be able to hear you through an intercom, so call if you need them. The treatment does not hurt. You will not be able to feel it at all. You must lie very still for the few minutes it takes to treat you.

Having external radiation therapy does not make you radioactive. It is perfectly safe to be with other people, including children, throughout your treatment course.

Radiation therapy is most often used after surgery to kill off any cancer cells that may have been left behind. This is called adjuvant radiation therapy . Usually between 4 and 6 weeks of daily treatments will be given. The treatment will not be able to begin until your wound has completely healed. Radiation therapy given sooner would slow down the healing process.

Shrinking the sarcoma before surgery can make it easier to remove. It may also reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the future by killing off any cells in the area that have broken away from the main tumor.

If your cancer has spread or come back after it was first treated, it may not be possible to get rid of it completely. But it may be possible for your doctor to control the growth of the cancer for a while with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

A growing cancer can cause symptoms by pressing on nerves and other body tissues. Radiation therapy shrinks the tumor and so relieves the pressure.