Radiation Therapy/Radiosurgery Treatment Process
Know what to expect before, during and after treatment
Once your doctor considers the possibility of radiation therapy, they refer you to a radiation oncologist who determines the type of cancer treatment plan needed. During your initial consultation, the radiation oncologist reviews your medical history, completes a physical examination, reviews your X-ray studies, scans and previous treatment to decide what role radiation therapy will play in treating your disease.
Following your initial visit, you will undergo a “simulation/marking” session. The simulation allows the radiation oncologist to define the exact location and configuration of the cancer or tumor. In order to accomplish this, you will be placed in the treatment position, and often there will be customized “immobilization devices” such as mesh masks or body molds to help maintain your body position the same on a day to day basis.
Treatment Planning and Dosimetry
Once the simulation process is completed, your radiation oncologist will determine your treatment plan including the amount of radiation that is needed and the number of treatments that will be given. Developing a treatment plan is a complex process and may take weeks to complete.
On your first day of treatment, you will check-in with the reception desk on the ground floor of our Cancer Center and be directed to the patient waiting area and dressing room. A radiation therapist brings you to the treatment machine and help position you on the treatment table. You will be placed in the same position as you were during your treatment planning. Once you are properly positioned, the therapist will exit the room and control the machine from directly outside the treatment room. The therapist will still be able to see you and communicate with you while in the room.
Before starting radiation, the technologist confirms your positioning is correct. Once confirmed, treatment is delivered, via True Beam external-beam radiation, which is a quicker, more accurate delivery system than used in previous technology. This faster delivery also reduces the chance of tumor motion during treatment, which helps protect healthy tissues. Other types of treatment may sometimes take longer.
Weekly Doctor Visits
Over the course of your radiation treatment, you will meet with your doctor and members of your treatment team at least once a week to discuss your progress. Should you have any concerns or symptoms that need to be addressed you will have the opportunity to discuss them at that time.
Side effects vary from patient to patient and depend on the part of the body treated and the radiation dose. Common side effects may include fatigue and skin changes. Your doctor will see you weekly to help minimize the side effects.