Immediate effects of radiation therapy

My brother starts radiation therapy today. He has a glio-blastoma in the thalamus area of the brain. That is inoperable brain cancer. They will do radiation now and follow up with chemo later. What is he going to go through? Is this one of the treatments that practically kills the patient to save him? Will he be bed ridden ?
He is 67 . Never smoked, drank moderately, swam and walked every day and has been very healthy all his life. Now he gets this. I am just trying to prepare myself for what he will go through and what he will look like. Has anyone seen a person go through this?

I’m sorry for what your family is going through, gonzomax. As a starting point, here’s the Wikipedia article on radiation therapy. It will help if you know the specific type he’s getting but I think this will given you a general idea.

I’ve seen radiation therapy at work but I’m hesitant to make generalizations about different types of radiation and cancer. I think most people would agree radiation is less arduous than chemotherapy. The worst side effects of radiation can be serious, including nerve damage and further tumor growth. But brain cancer is serious and there aren’t any other options, so bigger risks become acceptable. Exhaustion can set in after a few weeks, and the skin that the radiation passes through is likely to get burned.

I am also interested in the human side. Will he get depressed? Will he lose any functions? Will he suffer a lot ?He has almost lost his voice before the treatment began. That may be due to steroids. They were building him up to tear him down.
The chemo comes later. They are sparing him nothing .

I’ve never heard of depression as a side effect of radiation specifically, but the circumstances are depressing enough. I think a lot of the specifics you’re looking for will be determined by where the radiation beam is being aimed.

I wouldn’t expect to see any side effects right away. They develop over time.

Sorry about your brother, and best wishes for a succesful treatment. It is not exactly the same, but I had a series of external radiation treatments for my prostate cancer eight years ago. Today, they do amazing things, and mine was “shaped beam” and I suspect he will have the same. Unlike years ago when they blasted the tumor, and destroyed a lot of surrounding tissue, they do all sorts of scans to pinpoint the tumor, then the computer regulates the radiation so it pretty much just destroys the cancerous tissue and nothing else.

Whether this can be done for the brain area, I don’t know, but you should ask the oncologist about that. In fact, you should talk to the oncologist, take pencil and paper, and make a list of all the questions you have. Either s/he will tell you all the details, or a staff member would. Or should. Get it right from the horse’s mouth to be sure in his special case.

So, back to me. I went five times a week for eight weeks. About 20 minutes each time. I had absolutely no side effects the first four weeks, and only mild fatigue the last four. It knocked the cancer out completely, and a few days after finishing, I was right back to normal. Unfortunately, it just recently came back, but that is common with prostate cancer, and may have no application with your brother’s case.

I was 74 at the time, and in very good shape as did strenous exercise daily, and the doc said that was a factor in my case. However, since then I know several people who have had radiation therapy, and the side effects were minimal. Especially compared to chemo.

If you have any other questions, you can send me a private message and I’ll be glad to anser what I can, but I reiterate, the best source of info is his doctor.

Best of luck to him.

I am in Dearborn and he is in New York so I am getting second hand info. That is why I asked for info on the board.

I’m sending healing thoughts your brothers’ way, gonzo. I’ll be thinking of both of you today.