What to Expect Before, During, and After Radiation Therapy Treatment
Once you're referred to Radiation Oncology, you will meet with your Radiation Oncologist to discuss the type of treatment plan you will need. During the 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 CT Scan used for treatment planning. 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” created for your specific treatment site to help maintain your body position 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 unique to each patient.
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 will escort 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 simulation. 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 at all times.
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.