What to Know about Radiation Therapy

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VIDEO01:47

Radiation oncologist Michael Bernstein explains what patients should know about getting radiation therapy at MSK.

Show transcript

"Hey." "How are you?"

"Good."

"Good to see you today." "So are you doing OK today?"

"Today is a good day so far."

"Good." The thing that I love the most about being a doctor is the patient interaction and the relationships that you develop with patients. I am Michael Bernstein. I'm an attending radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

When patients first come to see me, there can be a lot of fear of the unknown. People always hear growing up to avoid radiation, and now we have to treat them with radiation. My goal is to reassure them that the technology in radiation machines that Memorial Sloan Kettering offers have the ability to precisely and accurately target areas of concern while sparing surrounding normal tissue.

"We did these scans here." When I explain radiation therapy to patients, I use the analogy that it is nothing more than a simple targeted X-ray of higher accuracy. Radiation is one of the few fields of medicine, if not the only field, where patients will be receiving treatment every day usually for weeks at a time.

"How are you doing?" The bond that you can establish with patients is extremely unique to radiation oncology. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we have the technology and expertise to make sure that patients achieve the best outcomes possible. "It looks like I'm getting better."

"Yeah, absolutely." "That's right."

I make sure that patients feel confident in the plan that we have outlined. And they feel confident that they will have someone with them every step of the way. "And you're back." "You are certainly back."

"Definitely, I'm back."