Radiation is the use of high energy x-rays to treat malignant tumors and some benign conditions. It had been in use for medical treatment for more than 100 years and ongoing innovations are increasing its effectiveness.
The external beam treatment is not painful, and there is no discomfort during the treatment. You will not become "radioactive" and hence will not pose any health hazard to your family members or friends.
You will be seen by your doctor who will determine your treatment plan. An appointment will be made for treatment simulation planning.
This is a procedure to determine the area of treatment for the purpose of planning your radiation fields. The procedure may take 15 minutes.
Treatment for different patients varies from one day to a few weeks. You may be required to receive treatment on one or more treatment units.
In the treatment room, your radiographer will put makings on your skin in order to align your positioning on the treatment couch. The machine will be directed accurately towards the targetted area for treatment.
During the treatment process, your radiographer is constantly monitoring you through a close-circuit television camera equipped with an intercom facility.
Each treatment session may last between 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the complexity of the set-up as well as the dosage level to be given.
During the course of the treatment, you will be reviewed once a week by your doctor. Your radiographer will inform you of your routine review dates.
Once your treatment has been completed, you will be required to come back for regular follow up at the National Cancer Centre as well as the scheduled appointments at the Gynaecological Cancer Centre at KK Hospital
It is the procedure during which salted water or medicated cleansing solution (as per your doctors' recommendation) is used to wash away accumulated secretions, blood or discharges in the vagina that cause adhesions and may increase the risk of infection.
During radiotherapy to the pelvic area, vaginal secretions will thicken into a glue-like fluid which causes adhesions (vaginal walls sticking together). This can no longer be parted making future examinations of the cervix impossible and sexual intercourse difficult. The secretions soon decrease, the vagina walls become dry and healing will occur over a period of time. Stenosis (hardening) and atrophy (shrinkage in size) may occur during healing and the use of vaginal cylinders and douching will decrease the extent of these effects./p>
The Oncology Nurse Counsellors will see you on a Friday after commencing therapy to advise you on your douching schedule and demonstrate the use of the cylinder. These items will then be given to you.
The nurse will explain the procedure to you as follows:
N.B. If using a bathtub, bedpan or wide plastic basin, the procedure may be done lying down.
The side effects of radiation therapy usually start on the second week of treatment.
Your Oncology Nurse Counsellor will schedule a date around this time for you to attend the Douching/Dilator clinic.
In addition to vaginal douching, a cylindrical apparatus known as a vaginal dilator may be lubricated and inserted into the vagina to prevent adhesions.
The schedule is as follows:
Three times a week for 3 months from the commencement of treatment and once a week thereafter for life.
You may resume intercourse 3 months after you have had major gynaecological surgery. Also, you may resume sexual intercourse as soon as you feel comfortable on completion of your course of radiotherapy. Consult your doctor or oncology nurse when in doubt.
'No man is an island' and all the more at this time of your life. Everyone, no matter how confident will treasure a listening ear, a helping hand and a loving smile. The Oncology Support Group is formed by volunteers who help in the caring of our patients diagnosed with cancer that may change their lifestyles or increase their fears.
We unite with the consistent action of care for your doubts, fears and queries, concern for your relatives and clarification of information regarding certain therapeutic procedures and side effects. We also help to link those in need to other sources of non-medical assistance available.
The Oncology Support Group is an action group founded on the principles of love and servitude.
Please call your counsellor or KK Gynaecological Cancer for more information.
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