Research & Education
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (such as x-rays) or particles (such as electrons or protons) to kill cancer cells. Radiation is sometimes used for patients whose cancer has spread to areas outside of the kidney (metastasized). It is usually used only as palliative care, to relieve discomfort or improve the quality of life.
External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation is focused from a source outside the body on the area affected by the cancer. It is much like getting a diagnostic x-ray but uses higher doses of more focused radiation.
Before treatments start, imaging studies are done to find the location of the cancer. The radiation team will make ink marks on your skin that they will use later as a guide for focusing the radiation in the right area.
Patients are usually treated 5 days per week in an outpatient center over a period of 7 or 8 weeks, with each treatment lasting a few minutes.
Possible side effects during treatment are due to the effects of radiation to the pelvic area and include:
These are usually temporary and resolve after your treatment ends, though it may take a few months before your energy returns.
Side effects are not the same for everyone. Ask your doctor what you can expect from your specific treatment.
Radiation therapy may affect your ability to have children. Talk with your doctor to see whether your specific treatment may harm your fertility and what your options are, if you plan to have children in the future.