NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

46 NCCN Guidelines for Patients ® : Lung Cancer – Non-Small Cell, 2018 r adiation t herapy) can improve how well the radiation beam targets the tumor. IGRT uses a machine that delivers radiation and also takes pictures of the tumor. Pictures can be taken right before or during treatment. These pictures are compared to the ones taken during simulation. If needed, changes will be made to your body position or the radiation beams. During treatment, you will be alone in the room. A therapist will operate the machine from a nearby room. He or she will be able to see, hear, and speak with you at all times. As treatment is given, you may hear noises. You will not see or feel the radiation. Treatment is given once a day on Monday through Friday. Each session can last between 10 to 30 minutes. In general, treatment is received at the same time each day. Internal radiation The less common radiation method is internal radiation therapy. This method is also called brachytherapy. It involves placing a radioactive object in or near the tumor. For lung cancer, internal radiation can shrink a tumor blocking an airway. Radiation is given through a plastic tube that is inserted into the airway. The tube is removed after the treatment session. Side effects Side effects from radiation therapy differ among people. Factors like radiation dose and length of treatment play a role. Side effects are cumulative. This means they build up slowly and are worse at the end of treatment. Your doctor will check on you every week during treatment. He or she will review skin care, medicines, and other options to help you feel better. Acute effects Acute effects are those that happen during treatment or shortly after the last session. Acute effects will generally improve after treatment. Fatigue is an acute effect. It may be painful to swallow. Skin changes and hair loss at the treatment site are expected. Often, people describe skin changes as like a sunburn. Unlike a sunburn, skin changes build up slowly during treatment. Your skin may become red, irritated, and dry. It may also itch, darken, peel, and sometimes crack open. Late effects Late effects are those that happen after treatment. Some do not go away. Your lungs may become inflamed. If so, the inflammation often goes away in a few months. Scar tissue may form in the lungs. The scar tissue may cause shortness of breath and a cough. Radiation may damage the heart but this is rare. Not all the side effects of radiation have been listed here. Please ask your treatment team for a complete list of side effects. If a side effect bothers you, tell your treatment team. There may be ways to help you feel better. 5 Overview of cancer treatments Radiation therapy Learning to manage side effects is well worth the effort! – Jon Lung cancer survivor “