A Mattress or MaskThe radiation cannot be seen, smelled or felt. Radiation therapy affects all of the cells that are irradiated. Both cancer cells and healthy cells will be damaged. The healthy cells have the advantage that they can repair themselves relatively quickly. Cancer cells are far less effective and rapid at this repairing themselves. Dividing the radiotherapy into small doses provides the healthy cells with time to recover. Radiotherapy is sometimes also administered as part of allogenic bone marrow transplantation. In which case, it does not entail localized radiation, but total body radiation.
How will your child receive the radiotherapy?
Preparations must be made for your child to undergo radiotherapy.
To help your child hold still and to administer the radiotherapy as accurately as possible, employees utilize a special aid.
A mattress is used for total body irradiation. This mattress contains small pellets. A vacuum pump is applied so that the mattress takes on the exact shape of your child's body, so he/she can adopt the same body posture for every radiation treatment.
When radiotherapy is applied to the head and neck area, a mask and headrest are made, sometimes in combination with a special mattress. The material for this mask is malleable at high temperatures and becomes firm at room temperature. This mask ensures that your child cannot or can hardly move his/her head. Your child, however, can breathe normally through the mask.
Before the radiotherapy actually takes place, your child will have the opportunity to practice lying still for radiation treatment. The Princess Maxima Center has lifelike radiation equipment to simulate the treatment on forehand. Your child can practice together with the medical pedagogical staff member.
What will your child notice about the radiation?
Fatigue may occur both during and after the radiotherapy treatment period. This is because the body must work hard to clean up the damaged cells and restore the healthy cells. The fatigue is often the result of the radiotherapy, the daily visits to the Radiotherapy department and the existing complaints and side effects of the disease itself.
Which side effects arise depends greatly on the where the radiotherapy is administered. The pediatric radiotherapist will discuss the side effects extensively with you.
Post-radiotherapy Skin Care Tips
You may take care of your child's skin as you would normally. It is important, however, not to clean off any skin markings that may be present. These are very important for the radiotherapy.
Would you like more information about radiotherapy and its potential side effects?
Do no hesitate to contact your radiation doctor (radiotherapist) or the radiotherapy lab technician.