May 23, 2014 1:26 pm

Ask the Pros- Dr. Kris Gast

Posted in: Ask the Pros

Q: Are radiation treatments painful?

A: Patients typically do not feel the treatment.  Generally given over several sessions ranging from one week to eight weeks, daily radiation treatments given for cancer are much like having an x-ray taken. The patient lies still on the table for 10-15 minutes as a prescribed dose of radiation is delivered to the precise area needed for treatment.  Side effects of the radiation treatment are specific to the area being treated and usually do not occur until a few weeks into the session. For more information about side effects of radiation therapy, visit or


Q: Do all patients have the same side effects from radiation therapy?

A: Many factors can affect one’s side effects from radiation treatments.  Factors can include: the area of the body being treated, the size of the treatment field, the physical size of the patient, and the sensitivity of normal tissues. Also, the combined treatment of radiation therapy with chemotherapy can enhance side effects. No two patients react the same to radiation treatments. Everyone’s treatment is customized and unique to their cancer diagnosis.  Your radiation treatment team will work hard to minimize as many side effects as possible.


Q: I keep hearing about Relay For Life.  What exactly is Relay For Life?


A: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a yearlong fundraising event. Locally, in September of every year, area teams start raising money by having bake sales, yard sales, raffles, anything they can think of to raise money.  In May or June the actual Relay event happens and in Fort Smith, it is a 12 hour party from 6pm until 6am.  During this event teams walk laps, survivors are honored and basically it is a big party with food, competitive games, theme laps, and shopping.  The teams will continue to raise money through August. Although some money does stay locally for programs, the American Cancer Society uses the majority of money raised for research to find a cure for cancer.

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