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Questions to Ask Before Deciding About Radiation Treatment

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

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Intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) is radiation treatment given during an operation that takes place inside the body.

Following are sample questions to consider asking in addition to whatever questions you may have about the surgery (for sample questions concerning surgery, click here)

  • What is radiation therapy?
  • Why do I need this treatment?
  • What is the goal of the treatment?
    • What are the chances of achieving the goal?
    • If the goal is to eliminate the cancer, what are the chances that this treatment will prevent the cancer from coming back?
  • Please describe the treatment in terms I can understand. (Ask that visual aides be used if necessary)
  • How will we know if the treatment worked? When will we know?
  • What are the alternatives to the proposed treatment?
  • What are the possible risks involved in undergoing the proposed radiation treatment?
  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? 
  • How will this treatment affect my work?
    • Will I be able to work?
    • If so, how will my work be affected?
    • Will that change over time?
    • What can we do to minimize the effect on work? For instance, can we schedule treatments for before or after work?
    • Will you be available to speak with my supervisor if it would help me?
  • What are the possible long term side effects of this treatment?
    • What can I do to prevent or minimize them?
    • Will this treatment affect my ability to have a child? If so, is there time to preserve my ability to have a child? (For information, click here.)
  • When was the last time the radiation equipment was certified? By what agency?
  • In what situation(s) should I call the doctor or go to the emergency room?

Also consider asking: Questions To Ask Before Agreeing To Surgery


  • If you have difficulty getting the doctor to answer your questions, see the video, Talking With Your Doctor, and/or read How To Work Most Effectively With Your Doctor.
  • If the doctor doesn't have time to answer all your questions when you are together, ask what is the best way to ask your additional questions. The doctor may set another appointment or suggest you send them by e mail or perhaps speak with another doctor or nurse in his or her practice.
  • For information about dealing with the stress of waiting for a procedure, click here.

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