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What You Need to Know About Radiation Masks

June 27, 2017

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If your cancer treatment plan includes radiation therapy, you’re probably wondering what you can expect, and that’s quite understandable. While your treatment team is your best source of individualized advice and guidance, Moffitt Cancer Center can provide some general information to help you prepare for your radiation treatment. For instance, you may be interested in learning about radiation masks.

If your radiation therapy will be delivered to your head or neck, you may be fitted with a thermoplastic mask to wear during your simulation and treatment sessions. Constructed of mesh and designed to be secured to a treatment table, this mask will be custom-made to precisely fit your face. As you lie on your back, your radiation mask will gently hold your head in place and help you remain in the correct position to ensure the accurate delivery of your treatment.

A member of your treatment team will create your radiation mask. While you lie on a simulation table, a therapist will carefully place a warm, wet plastic mesh film over your face and neck and shape it around your head. The mesh will have openings for your eyes and nose, and you will be able to see and breathe normally while being fitted for and wearing your radiation mask.

In approximately 15 minutes, your soft and pliable radiation mask will gradually cool and harden. If you experience any discomfort, pressure, claustrophobia or anxiety at any time, you should let your therapist know right away. He or she can help you find a comfortable and reproducible position for your treatments. If necessary, your physician may also prescribe a medication to help you relax during these sessions.

Depending on the area of your head or neck that will be treated, a member of your treatment team may also create a bite block for you. In general, this will involve placing a softened piece of plastic on your tongue, which you will be asked to bite down on for a few minutes while the plastic hardens. You will then use your bite block during each treatment to help limit any movements caused by swallowing.

Prior to radiation therapy, some patients find it helpful to learn and practice some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, that they can then use during their treatment sessions. Many people also enjoy listening to their favorite music or envisioning their “happy place” — whatever that means for them — as the radiation machine whirs and moves around them.

At Moffitt, our patients benefit from state-of-the-art radiation delivery equipment, but it is the expertise and compassion of our staff that truly sets us apart. Our experienced team of radiation oncologists administer radiation therapy with an exceptional level of precision. Additionally, we care about the comfort and well-being of our patients at every step of the cancer journey. Toward that end, we offer a wide variety of informational, wellness and clinical services to assist those who are undergoing radiation therapy and other cancer treatments.

If you’d like to learn more about radiation therapy at Moffitt Cancer Center or take advantage of our supportive care services, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. No referrals are required.