- Q. What is radiation therapy and how does it work?
A. Radiation therapy, sometimes called radiotherapy, effectively
treats cancer by using high-energy rays to pinpoint and destroy
cancerous cells in your body. Although radiation therapy is similar to
having an X-ray taken of a broken bone, the dose of radiation in cancer
treatment is stronger and is given over a longer period of time. Many
forms of radiation are available. The best choice for you depends on the
type of cancer you have, the extent of the cancer, and its location.
Cancers are growths of abnormal cells. Different types of cancer
react to radiation in different ways, so treatments vary. Also, it takes
time for the body to get rid of dead cancer cells. After you have
completed treatment, months often pass before the tumor is completely
With careful planning, radiation can be directed to the cancer and
away from most normal tissues. This means you may receive treatment on
more than one side of your body or from different angles. You may also
need more than one type of radiation, which may require the use of more
than one machine.
- Q. What will happen on my first visit to the center?
A. For your initial visit, the Radiation Oncology team usually meets you at the Radiation Oncology Center.
If, after evaluation, you decide to proceed with treatment, you will
receive more information about the radiation therapy treatment process
and side effects that you might experience. Before you leave, an
appointment will be made for your planning session (simulation).
- Q. Follow-up visits:
A. The simulation visit includes seeing your doctor and setting up
your treatment plan. This visit in the Radiation Oncology Center will
take from one hour to three hours. You will be asked to sign a consent
form agreeing to your treatment. Actual treatment time on subsequent
visits takes only a few minutes, but preparation may add 15 to 20
- Q. Will radiation therapy make me radioactive?
A. You will not be radioactive after getting external radiation therapy, so don't worry about hurting your family and friends.
If you are hospitalized for insertion of internal radioactive
sources, you will stay in a protected room until the source of radiation
is removed. If you need this type of radiation, your doctor will
explain it to you in detail.
- Q. Who will administer the treatment?
A. A health care team will work together to administer your
radiation therapy. The team is led by a radiation oncologist, a doctor
who specializes in radiation therapy. This is the person referred to as
"your doctor" throughout this text.
A radiation therapist actually delivers the prescribed treatment and
will assist you before and after your treatments. A radiation therapy
nurse works closely with the radiation oncologist to help you throughout
your course of treatment. The health care team also includes other
physicians, dosimetrists (specialists who use computers to help design
treatment plans), social workers, dietitians, and chaplains.
- Q. What can I expect after I am told I need radiation therapy?
A. You will see your doctor in the Radiation Oncology Center or in
your primary clinic. An appointment will be made for a planning session
(simulation). This visit includes seeing your doctor and setting up your
treatment plan. Be prepared to spend one to three hours in the
Radiation Oncology Center. You will be asked to sign a consent form
agreeing to your treatment.
Simulation is done to locate the exact area to be treated. The
radiation therapist will move you into a position that will be the same
during your actual treatments. During the simulation, the radiation
therapist will take a CT scan of the area that needs to be in the
treatment field. As the treatment progresses, the treatment area may
change as directed by your doctor.
- Q. What will happen on my treatment days?
A. On each treatment day, you will be asked to put on a gown or remove some clothing to expose the treatment area.
Although the actual treatment will last only a few minutes, you may
spend 15 to 20 minutes getting ready. You will be helped onto a
treatment table. Your position on the table will be the same for each
Once you are positioned, do not move until the treatment is finished.
After the radiation therapist has helped position you on the table,
he or she will leave the room, monitor you by closed-circuit television,
and be in contact with you through an intercom.
Keep in mind that the treatment machines are large and sometimes
noisy while in use. Just relax and breathe normally. You should not feel
If you need something or are in pain, tell the radiation therapist.
He or she can turn off the machine immediately and come into the room.
The radiation stops when the machine is turned off.
- Q. How often will I get a treatment?
A. Your treatments will probably be scheduled every weekday, Monday
through Friday, allowing you to rest on Saturday and Sunday. The
treatment cycle usually takes from two to six weeks.
Your daily appointment schedule will be as convenient for you as
possible. Your radiation therapist will notify you of any holidays on
which you will not receive treatments.
Your doctor will examine you and review your progress once a week.
This scheduled check-up will take longer than the treatment visits. The
nurses who see you during the check-up will work closely with you and
the doctor to help you manage any side effects you may have. This is
also the proper time to request refills for any medications that you may
need to manage side effects.
- Q. What delays can I expect?
A. Sometimes you may have to wait for your treatment or to see the
doctor because the Radiation Oncology Center is very busy. However, if
you wait longer than 30 minutes, please check with the front desk.
The most frequent cause of delay is equipment downtime. This happens
when a radiation therapy machine cannot be used because it is being
serviced. In most cases of downtime, you will be asked to wait, or you
may be treated on another machine.
- Q. Will I have side effects, and how long will they last?
- Q. Some common side effects include
A. Red, itching, and peeling skin in your treatment area. This
usually happens after about four weeks of radiation therapy. Report any
skin problems to your nurse or doctor. Refer to the next section for
skin care information.
- Q. Treatments
A. • Fatigue You may feel more tired than usual. Make sure to get
plenty of rest, and do not overexert yourself. • Loss of appetite
You may not feel like eating. This side effect is common if your abdomen
or mouth is in the treatment area. If so, try eating several small
meals or snacks (dry toast, crackers) throughout the day, instead of
three big meals. A dietitian can give you more tips on eating during
treatment. • Hair loss Hair loss may occur, but only in the area
You will receive specific information about your type of radiation
therapy. This information will include what to do in case of problems
and how to manage your specific side effects. Be sure to tell your nurse
if you have any side effects
- Q. How do I take care of my skin while I am getting radiation therapy?
A. Toward the end of your treatment, the radiated skin may become
pink and itchy. In some cases, the skin will blister and flake like a
What to do:
• Leave the marks on your skin until all of your treatments are
finished. In some cases, you may rinse the treatment area with warm
water, but do not rub or scrub off the marks. Your nurse will talk with
you in more detail about care of your treatment area. • Do not use
soap on the marks. • Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing that does
not rub the treatment area. • Do not put any source of heat or cold
on the treatment area, and do not let the sun shine on the area. •
If your skin itches in the treatment area, do not scratch it. If this is
a problem for you, tell your nurse or doctor. Some medicines may
relieve the itching. • Do not put anything (cream, lotion, powder,
makeup) on the treatment area unless your doctor or nurse says it is
okay to do so. After your treatment is complete, your doctor may give
you an ointment to soothe the skin. • Before shaving any part of
your treatment area, check with your nurse or doctor. If you are allowed
to shave, use an electric shaver.
- Q. Will I be able to have sex?
A. You may have sex if it is comfortable for you. You are not
radioactive, and your partner is in no danger from the radiation
treatments or the cancer.
If you are a woman of childbearing age and have sex during treatment,
you must use some type of birth control. Your doctor can help you
decide what kind of birth control is best for you.
If you want or need to talk with someone about other sexual health
concerns, you may schedule an appointment with a social worker. Coping
with the diagnosis of cancer and its treatment can be difficult. The
radiation therapy health care team is here to help you. Please tell your
nurse or doctor about your concerns.
- Q. What other things can I do to help myself during treatment?
A. • Eat a well-balanced diet. Every day, choose foods from these
groups: breads and cereals; meats, eggs or beans; milk or milk
products; vegetables and fruits. • Try to eat enough food to keep
your weight at the same level as before treatment. Your body needs more
calories now, so you may need to eat more than usual. A dietitian from
the radiation therapy clinic can help you set up a food plan. • Tell
your doctor or nurse if you lose or gain 10 or more pounds. • Drink
at least eight cups of fluid every day. Fluids may include water,
gelatin, ice pops, juices, iced tea, soup, and milk. • If you notice
your weight going down, try to drink fluids that are high in calories,
such as milk shakes or nutritional supplements. • At MemorialCare
website, you can watch the video Good Nutrition and the Radiotherapy
Patient. You or your nurse may call us and ask to view the videotape. •
Get some exercise and plenty of rest. It is okay to continue your
regular activities as long as you take rest periods and do not overexert
yourself. Your doctor will talk with you about how much exercise you
should get. • Try to sleep at least six hours at night, and take
naps during the day if you can.
- Q. What should I do about medicine?
A. Tell your doctor or radiation therapy nurse if you are taking
prescription or over-the-counter medicines. He or she will review your
current medications, which usually can be continued throughout your
treatment. Your local doctor will still prescribe any medications you
are taking for problems other than cancer.
You may continue to buy your routine medications at your local
drugstore. The hospital pharmacy dispenses medication only for the
treatment of cancer.
- Q. What if I have other questions?
A. If you or your family has any questions about your care, please
ask your nurse or doctor. You may also speak with a social worker.
Being told that you have cancer can affect you and your family in
many different ways. Social workers may be able to help you with
individual counseling, support groups, community resources,
transportation, and housing while you are being treated in the Radiation
With your help, your radiation therapy team can give you the best care possible.
- Q. What should I do in an emergency?
A. If you or a family member is experiencing a potential life-threatening emergency (for example, chest pain), call 911.
If you have an urgent care problem (for example, cold or flu), please
contact your primary care physician's office for instructions on how to
arrange a same-day office visit.
- Q. What should I bring to the emergency room?
A. Have your medical information readily available, including what
medications you are currently taking. This information will help the
doctor evaluate your health status. Bring your insurance card and the
name of your primary care physician, as well as either a social security
card, driver's license or other form of identification.
- Q. How do I get directions to Orange County CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center?
- Q. What is the address and phone number for Orange Coast Comprehensive Radiation Oncology Center?
A. Orange County CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center
18111 Brookhurst Street, Lower Level
Suite 300, Fountain Valley, Ca 92708
Telephone Number: (714) 880-8200Fax number: 714-963-7600
- Q. What is the number for the hospital gift shop?
A. To contact the gift shop at Orange Coast Memorial Hospital, please call (714) 880-8200 How can I obtain my medical records?/p>
Send a written authorization request to have your medical records copied to:
Orange Coast Comprehensive Radiation Oncology Center
18111 Brookhurst Street, Lower Level
Suite 300, Fountain Valley, Ca 92708
- Q. Do you offer any health events or health education for the public?
- Q. I received a bill and have questions about it. Whom can I call for assistance?
A. If you received inpatient or outpatient services Orange County
CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center and would like to speak with a
customer service representative, please call (562) 492-6695. If you have
already received a hospital or physician bill, you may also reference
the phone number indicated on the bill.
- Q. Which health plans does Orange County CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Centeraccept?
A. In addition to self-pay patients, Orange County CyberKnife and
Radiation Oncology Centerworks with many payors including indemnity
plans, Medicare fee-for-service, PPO and various HMO products. Please
call the center for additional information
- Q. Can you help me understand some of the healthcare and managed care terms?
A. We realize that some of the words and phrases used in healthcare
can be confusing and have provided a quick reference guide below.
The insurance company pays physicians or medical groups a certain amount each month for each patient.
An amount of money the insured person pays each time
he or she sees a doctor, gets a prescription, or has a medical service
A term to describe the process of signing up with a managed care health plan.
Fee For Service
Paying for medical services when they are
provided or when a bill is received. Payment can be in cash or as an
A benefit plan in which you must chose a primary care
physician and you must use the physicians who are signed up with that
group and HMO for any care or the HMO will not pay for the care.
Independent Physician Association (IPA)
An organization in which
private-practice physicians agree to work together to negotiate with
insurance companies but the physicians run their own offices.
A concept of overseeing the use of medical services
to keep the cost of providing care low while at the same time keeping
the quality of the care high, typically by having the patient go through
a primary care physician before seeing specialists, thus ensuring the
proper use of specialty care.
A government-funded insurance program that covers people over age 65 and some people with certain diseases or disabilities.
A person who has signed up with a managed care health plan.
A group of physicians who have created an organization devoted to providing medical care.
A period of time in which a person can change insurance plans offered by his or her employer.
Out of Pocket
Any fee paid by the patient; can be a co-payment, deductible or the entire bill.
Point of Service (POS) Plan
Members have an HMO and a PPO option. When you need care, you choose to activate either the HMO or PPO option.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plan
The insurance company
will give you a list of physicians you can go to and still be covered;
if you go to a physician outside of that list, the insurance company
might pay for some of the care, but will usually require you to pay a
Primary Care Physician
A doctor who coordinates the care for a
person with managed care insurance. All managed care insurance plans
require members to choose a primary care physician or medical group
before seeking care.
Referral or Authorization
What the primary care physician writes if you need specialized medical care.
If I have a question or concern regarding the care provided to me by
Orange County CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center whom do I
- Q. What languages Orange County CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center assist us with?
- Q. What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?
A. An Advance Healthcare Directive is a "living will". You fill out
the form giving instructions about your own healthcare should you have a
serious injury or illness and are unable to speak for yourself about
your medical care. You may name a relative or friend who you trust, to
be your "agent" who will make medical decisions for you if you can no
longer make them for yourself. You can also describe what kinds of
treatments you want and do not want. The Advance Healthcare Directive is
a legal document and is supported by Sections 4600 to 4753 inclusive,
of the California Probate Code.
You may also write to the California Medical Association Publications
at the address below for their booklet, a form and further information.
CA Medical Association Publications
P.O. Box 7690
San Francisco, CA 94120-7690
- Q. What is HIPAA?
A. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a Federal Law enacted to:
Protect the privacy of a patient's personal and health information.
Provide for the physical and electronic security of personal health information.
Simplify billing and other transactions with Standardized Code Sets and Transactions.
Specify new rights of patients to approve access / use of their medical information.