What to Expect
During your first visit, you will have a change to see our facility and meet with our cancer specialists. During this time, our radiation oncologists will review your records including scans, complete an exam and discuss with you their recommendation for treatment. Even with their recommendations, we realize its important to also address your needs and wishes so that each plan is personalized to you.
They will work to collaborate with you and other members of your medical team such as surgeons and medical oncologists (who prescribe chemotherapy) to determine the best approach for you.
After your first visit, if you need to receive radiation treatment, you will be provided with a follow up appointment for a simulation session.
Simulation (Treatment Planning Session)
Radiation treatments are planned to be precise and accurate each time you come for treatment. In order to do so, a “simulation” is done with you in the exact position you will be in for treatments.
Most often, this is done using a CT scan at our offices. On occasion, you may have specific marks placed or have a customized mold to help keep still. You should also be given instructions beforehand on anything you need to do to prepare for the scan, including any blood work if receiving contrast.
After your simulation, the radiation oncologist, physicist and dosimetrist all work together to outline areas in your body that should receive radiation therapy and what should be avoided. Sophisticated computer planning is done with the information from the simulation to design the best possible treatment for you.
Once a plan is agreed upon, your doctor will prescribe the radiation treatment. Careful checks are done by the physicist to confirm what we see in the computer matches what happens in real life.
When the plan is checked and ready, our team will call you to set up for an appointment for a verification.
This is the last appointment before you start actual radiation treatments. In many ways, this serves as an extra check to confirm everything sets up the same as your simulation day and treatment is ready to be delivered. You may have marks replaced at this time or converted into tattoos (small dots).
At the end of this appointment, the radiation therapists will provide you with a schedule for your upcoming treatments. You will also have the opportunity to meet with the physician again should you have any additional questions about treatment.
When you arrive for your appointment, you can check in at the front desk or scan your ID card to let the therapists know you are here. You will be called to the back to change clothes (if needed) and proceed to the treatment area.
The treatment machine and room are entirely open, so there should be no concern about being claustrophobic. Much of the time you spend in the room (on average, 15-30 minutes) will involve positioning on the table and double checks. The actual treatment should only last for a few minutes. During that time, the therapists will be outside of the room but can hear and see you.
Each day for treatment, we check skin marks and take pictures as sophisticated as a CT scan to confirm the radiation is being delivered to the exact same location each day.
Therapists will help guide you through the process of each treatment. Treatments can vary from a single session to daily treatment for several weeks. If you have questions about your schedule, you can speak with the therapists or your physician to better understand.
During the course of your treatments, you will periodically meet with the radiation oncologist and nurse to check on how you are doing and review your progress. You may have specific orders for blood work or other tests to be done during this time. These visits are short (15 minutes or so) to let you keep your daily schedule but give us an opportunity to make sure you are doing well.
Regardless, on any of your treatment days, you can meet with the nurse or oncologist if you have new questions or concerns.
On your last day of treatment, we will schedule a follow up appointment to check to see how you are feeling. Your radiation oncologist or other physicians on your cancer team will coordinate for any testing to monitor your treatment response.
While these visits may become more spaced out over time, you are always welcome to call our office anytime if issues arise.