Treatment begins by meeting with our radiation oncologist to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options. You and your loved ones will have time to ask questions and express any concerns.

The radiation oncologist reviews your medical history and records, which includes copies of your imaging and medical scans, pathology or biopsy reports, and previous treatment records. This information helps determine if you are a candidate for radiation therapy treatment.

The consultation visit typically lasts about one to two hours. In addition, you will be assigned a nurse or coordinator who helps to address your needs and concerns throughout the entire treatment process.

For your consultation, please bring the following documents:

  • Any medical records we have requested that were not previously sent
  • Your insurance card
  • Your driver’s license
  • A list of current medications

If you choose to proceed with radiation therapy treatment, you will undergo an MRI and/or CT scan called a simulation.

This step allows the radiation oncologist and medical physicist to view and pinpoint the treatment location in your body, which helps determine the exact position in which you will lie during each treatment. The simulation is an important step in the development of your customized treatment plan, also referred to as a “treatment course”. Simulation helps ensure the radiation therapy treatments you receive are administered the same way each treatment visit.

Using the simulation data, the radiation therapy team creates an individualized treatment plan with advanced computer software. During this stage, our dosimetrist, medical physicist and radiation oncologist collaborate to develop the customized treatment delivery plan for your specific case. The goal of this planning process is to develop a course of treatment that will maximize the dose of radiation the tumor receives to destroy the cancer cells while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.

You are scheduled for a certain number of treatments based on your specific diagnosis and treatment plan. Treatments typically are given Monday through Friday. Each session takes about 10 to 15 minutes. All treatment appointments are scheduled in advance, so there is no need to call each day to confirm your appointment.

In order for radiation therapy to be effective, it is critical that you receive all prescribed treatments. If you miss an appointment, it will be added to the end of your treatment course.

On the day of your treatments, we encourage you to wear comfortable clothing. Each treatment session is similar to having an X-ray exam. The treatment itself is painless.

When you enter the treatment room, our radiation therapist will help you onto the treatment table. Once you’re positioned, the radiation therapist exits the treatment room and your session begins. You’re asked to lie still and breathe normally during the treatment. No sedation is required.

The linear accelerator moves around your body without touching you, delivering radiation precisely to your tumor. Throughout the session, you can communicate with the radiation therapist via a two-way intercom system, and the therapist monitors you throughout treatment using video cameras. You can pause the session at any time by waving or speaking to the treatment team.

You should be able to leave as soon as treatment sessions are complete. Most patients return to normal activities and routines following their treatment. Common side effects may include skin irritation at the treatment site and fatigue.

Follow-up is another important aspect of the treatment process. Your treatment plan will outline follow-up appointments as needed to monitor your progress. The first follow-up appointment typically occurs three to six weeks after your last treatment. Once your treatment is completed, your physician will ask that you report any symptoms you experience such as a persistent pain or cough, nausea or vomiting. If you notice anything abnormal, contact us immediately.

We recommend the special care you used during treatment continue for at least a short period of time following your last treatment. For example, if you experienced skin irritation during treatment, continue to use a skin moisturizer if recommended, until the irritated area has healed. For fatigue, continue to take naps as needed and try to get extra rest at night. If you followed a special diet during treatment, you may need to continue the diet for a period of time after treatment is completed.

If your treatment plan requires any special follow-up care instructions, your physician will direct you when your treatment course is finished.

Speak with one of our dedicated nurses about how we can help.