First Visit Consultation
A complete medical history and physical exam will be performed. The radiation oncologist then consults with you, reviews specifics regarding your case and discusses treatment options. When the radiation therapy is selected as the course of treatment, the next step before the radiation treatment begins, which is a treatment planning session where the team prepares for your treatment by performing a simulation. The Simulation appointment may take place on the same day as your consultation visit or may be scheduled for another day.
- This appointment occurs in the Radiation Department, takes 1 to 2 hours and involves technical planning to design the area where the treatment will be given.
- You will not be receiving radiation treatment of this day.
- You will be informed of any instructions or restrictions prior to your visit.
- The simulator is a specialized x-ray machine that takes films of the treatment field determined by your physician.
- In addition, a treatment planning CT scan—sometimes with contrast injection—may be done to determine the treatment area.
- Various treatment aids such as a headrest, face mask or body mold, or other devices may be utilized at Simulation and during the course of treatment to enhance accuracy and safety.
- Sometimes temporary markings are made directly on the skin.
- Tiny dots of permanent ink may be also be placed on the skin. These aid the therapist in reproducing the treatment position on a daily basis.
- Photographs are taken for the purpose of daily treatment identification.
- Daily (Monday-Friday) treatment appointments are arranged for you.
- Your first scheduled treatment appointment is not an actual treatment, but rather a 'dry run' to check all aspects of your treatment plans.
- Generally, the first radiation treatment is given the following day.
Treatment Plan Development
After Simulation, the radiation oncologist, physicist, an dosimetrist work together to develop your specific treatment plan. This planning process may take several days to two weeks.
- The department has a dedicated free parking lot for all patients undergoing daily radiation treatments. A therapist at your treatment machine will issue you a parking permit.
- You will be informed of any pre-treatment instructions or restrictions prior to your first scheduled treatment appointment.
- Daily appointments are scheduled Monday to Friday (holidays off) for the duration of prescribed treatment time. Allow 15 - 30 minutes daily, although the actual treatment time may be 5 - 10 minutes.
- If you are unable to make an appointment it is very important that you notify us, so that changes can be made if needed, to your treatment plan.
- When you arrive, please check in at the reception desk and feel free to ask for assistance or guidance to your treatment machine (Linear Accelerator.)
- The therapy team may request that you change into a gown or remove an article of clothing so that the treatment area and ink marks are visible.
- Radiation therapists will take you into the treatment area and prepare you for your treatment.
- When treatment begins, you will be alone in the treatment room, but are continuously monitored by your team of therapists through surveillance cameras and intercom.
- You will not see or feel anything as your are being treated, but you will hear the machine running.
During the course of your treatment, x-rays called 'portal films' are taken to verify that you are in the correct treatment position. Should symptoms, concerns or questions arise, you can be seen by your clinical team any day of the week. Please inform your therapist who will notify a member of your clinical team to request a visit after your daily treatment.
One day each week is set aside for a brief visit with your radiation oncologist. This is an opportunity for your physician to monitor your progress, as well as assess and manage treatment-related side effects. This is also the time for you to discuss any concerns that you might have.
Follow-up care after treatment for cancer is important. Even when the cancer seems to have been completely removed or destroyed, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remained somewhere in the body after treatment.
- Your doctor will monitor your recovery and check for recurrence of the cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in health are noted. Between scheduled visits with your doctor, you should contact the doctor as soon as any health problems appear.
- Your radiation oncologist will determine what follow-up visits and diagnostic imaging studies are necessary. Appointments for follow-up visits will be scheduled at or near the completion of your treatment.