At this time, you will have a physical examination by your radiation oncologist and a resident. All of your records, including x-rays and test results, will be reviewed. Please remember to bring what medical records you are hand-carrying as these are essential to your evaluation. Treatment options, including the risks, benefits and outcomes will be explained. Bringing a spouse, and /or family member or friend is strongly encouraged as they may help with questions or take notes. Please expect to be here several hours for this initial visit.
Radiation therapy can cause hair loss, also known as alopecia, but only in the area being treated. For example, if you are receiving treatment to your hip, you will not lose the hair from your head. Radiation on your head may cause you to lose some or all of the hair on your scalp. Many patients find that their hair grows back again after treatments are finished. The amount of hair that grows back will depend on how much and what kind of radiation you receive. You may notice that your hair has a slightly different texture or color when it grows back. Other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, also can affect how your hair grows back.
Although your scalp may be tender after the hair is lost, it’s a good idea to cover your head with a hat, turban, or scarf. You should wear a protective cap or scarf when you’re in the sun or outdoors in cold weather. We can help arrange for wigs or hairpieces for those desiring this.
In some cases, radiation therapy can cause low levels of white blood cells and platelets. These blood cells normally help your body fight infection and prevent bleeding. If large areas of active bone marrow are treated, your red blood cell count may be low as well. If your blood tests show these side effects, your doctor may wait until your blood counts increase to continue treatments. Your doctor may check your blood counts regularly and change your treatment schedule if it is necessary.