What to Expect: Radiation Therapy

 The Treatment Routine

One of the first people you’ll meet at the Radiation Therapy Center will be your Oncology Nurse. This highly trained, experienced professional will be your liaison and advocate throughout your treatment, with a door that’s always open to patients.
On the first visit, your nurse will spend time getting to know you and your family.  She’ll want to know your whole health history, including the medications you take.  She’ll find out what kind of support you may need during your treatment, such as a dietary consultation, assistance with insurance red tape, and even rides to and from therapy. She’ll make sure you understand your medical condition and the tests that have been conducted so far.  Easing your anxiety about cancer treatment is an important goal.
After spending time with the nurse, you’ll meet your Radiation Oncologist, a physician who specializes in radiation therapy.  The Radiation Oncologist will explain your radiation treatments, possible side effects, and your treatment schedule.  He’ll make sure you understand your diagnosis and your test results, and he’ll give you a physical exam.

Preparing For Treatment
Your second visit is called a Simulation. Using a CT Scanner, our team will pinpoint the location of your tumor and begin designing your radiation plan. Precision targeting is essential to deliver the right radiation dosage to your tumor while protecting the healthy tissue nearby.  The team will place reference marks on your skin, using felt markers or (in some cases) pinpoint tattoos.
After that visit, the Radiation Oncologist will work together with our Oncology Physicist and a Dosimetrist. This trio will collaborate to make a treatment plan to deliver just the right amount of radiation to just the right places. They’ll need about seven to 10 days to prepare that plan before scheduling your first treatment.

Your Treatment Schedule
Your first treatment will take about an hour, as our Radiation Therapists take X-rays to confirm that you are correctly positioned to receive your treatment, and that the radiation beams are shaped the way they were designed in the plan. After that, you’ll visit us every Monday through Friday, with each treatment taking about 15 minutes.  
Every patient’s treatment plan is different.  You may undergo just a few treatments, or your treatment could last several weeks.
We understand that cancer treatment isn’t the only thing going on in your life.  So we make every effort to accommodate your needs.  We’ll try to schedule your treatments at the most convenient time of day.  If you need to go out of town, your doctor may be willing to approve a day off from treatment.

A Weekly Chat
Throughout your treatment, you’ll meet with the Radiation Oncologist and your Oncology Nurse every Tuesday. We’ll check on your condition, any side-effects from treatment, and generally how you’re adjusting to the treatment process. We’ll make sure any pain you may have is being managed properly.  You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and express your wishes about your ongoing treatment. In between Tuesday meetings, you’re always welcome to visit your nurse to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. 

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