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The following is a brief description of the process:
Consultation is a time for patients and their families to meet their Cancer Care Team. Consultations last approximately 1 & 1/2 hours. Please bring the following:
- List of medications
- Any x-rays or medical records
- Insurance cards
Upon arrival we will give you a health questionnaire to complete. You and your family will then be taken to an exam room by a Radiation Oncology Registered Nurse who will review your medical history and perform a health assessment that includes a review of current symptoms and a nutritional screening.
Patients will then meet their Radiation Oncologist. They will review your history, x-rays, lab, pathology and any additional reports and then perform a complete physical assessment. Once completed, you will be provided with the time needed to have all of your questions answered. We encourage you to write down any questions prior to your appointment.
Our education process begins at time of consultation as we provide information on your specific diagnosis, treatment options, planning and treatment procedures, side effects and management of side effects during treatment.
Simulation is a “mapping” process whereby the physician obtains either a CT scan or a series of x-rays in order to construct your radiation treatment plan. One of our radiation therapists will perform the exam. During the exam small marks may be drawn on your skin in order to mark the area to be treated. Any additional instructions that are necessary will be provided to you at the time of simulation. Please allow approximately 1 hour for this procedure to be completed.
During the simulation your treatment area was identified and marked so the physician and dosimetry staff could develop the appropriate treatment plan. After that process has been completed you will return for another procedure known as verification. The team of therapists will take a series of x-rays in order to verify that you are in the correct position for the treatment plan to be delivered. Marks placed during simulation may be “tattooed” during verification or within the first few days of treatment. This process is virtually painless and will allow the staff to position you accurately on a daily basis. Verification will be done on our linear accelerator. This unit has digital imaging in order to speed up the process and minimize your inconvenience. Allow approximately 15-30 minutes for the verification process.
The duration of each treatment course will vary depending on the type of cancer and the treatment plan that was developed. The treatment course will last from as short as one week to as long as eight weeks.
The daily treatment will occur Monday through Friday. Treatment times are scheduled and remain consistent throughout your treatment unless another time is needed. The overall time frame for your daily visit is approximately 15 minutes. These times can vary depending on a number of factors but generally 15 minutes is a good estimate.
Upon your arrival, you may be asked to change into a gown. Our cancer center has several changing rooms located by the treatment room for your convenience. Each day you will lie down on the table in the linear accelerator roomand the therapists will position you so that you will match your treatment plan. The accelerator will move around you during the treatment in order to deliver the radiation to preset locations. You will not feel anything during this time. The machine will make a slight buzzing sound while it operates. Once the treatment is complete you will be assisted off the table and be able to continue on with your normal routine. Treatments with the accelerator do NOT make you radioactive and you will not need to take any special precautions around other people because of them.
On Treatment Visit (OTV)
Once a week during your Radiation treatments you will have scheduled time in an exam room. After the treatment you will be taken to an exam room. Your Registered nurse will obtain your weight, vital signs, assess pain management, assess your nutritional status and evaluate how you are tolerating your treatment. Your Radiation Oncologist will then see you to perform a physical examination. Again, your family is welcome and encouraged to be with you during that time.
Post Treatment Follow-Up
It is important for you to remember that keeping your follow-up appointments after the completion of your Radiation Therapy is as important as coming to your daily treatments. Your Cancer Care Team will want to see you in follow-up in one month after the completion of treatment then every three to four months for the first two to three years. X-rays, CT Scans, Lab or other additional tests will be ordered periodically.