How to prepare for radiation therapy?


The patient does not need to do anything special before starting radiation therapy, other than following the radiation oncologist or nurse’ recommendations:

  • never apply cream to the skin before a radiotherapy session
  • wash the skin with water before the session if cream has been applied
  • do not expose the irradiated area to the sun
  • do not swim in the sea or pool
  • avoid tobacco and alcohol

At each stage of cancer management, the patient receives appropriate advice from the radiation oncologist, nurses, and radiation therapist. Unlike surgery, patients do not have to make any special preparations the day before radiotherapy initiation. On the other hand, depending on the treatment (i.e. radiotherapy type, device type, area to be treated, number of sessions), the doctor gives some recommendations to limit as much as possible the occurrence of side effects. The interval between surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy is decided by the doctor in order to limit the side effects while maintaining good therapeutic effectiveness. For example, the risk of skin toxicity (which can cause pain) is strongly reduced by avoiding delivering radiotherapy concomitantly with some specific chemotherapies.

At each session, a radiation therapist brings the patient in the treatment room and takes care of the patient. The patient can talk about any problem (e.g. pain, skin problems) with the radiation therapist who can arrange a meeting with the radiation oncologist or the nurses, if required.