What to Expect
When you arrive for your appointment, you will be met by one of our nurses who will show you to an exam room. She will ask you for a list of your current medications and take a brief medical history from you. You will next meet with your radiation oncologist who will ask additional questions, review your medical records, x-rays and test results and conduct a physical exam. Afterwards, the radiation oncologist will discuss your treatment options with you in detail and explain radiation treatment and its potential side effects. If additional testing is necessary, it will be arranged for you.
You are encouraged to bring a family member or other support person with you to your consultation appointment. You are encouraged to ask questions and voice concerns. It's a good idea to bring a list of questions you would like to ask at the time of your visit.
Before you leave your consultation, you will be scheduled for your treatment planning session or simulation, and will be given additional information and instructions to take home with you.
During the simulation, the physician and radiation therapist will work together to plan your treatment. Many simulations are performed using our departmental CT-scan machine. The therapist will position you on the treatment table and create custom immobilization devices specific to your body and treatment site. This is done to help you maintain the exact same position throughout your daily treatments. It is essential that radiation treatments be precisely targeted; therefore, it is important that you remain as still as possible during treatment.
Marks may be drawn on your skin to outline the treatment area and small permanent tattoos, the size of a freckle, will be placed under your skin as reference points for the therapists to use during your daily treatments.
Additionally, x-rays, CT scans or other state-of-the-art scanning technologies will be taken to assist in planning your treatment. These scans are different from the diagnostic scans you may have had, because these will be done while you are aligned in your customized treatment position.
After your simulation is completed, the information is sent by special computers to the physicists and dosimetrists who will work with your physician to formulate a treatment plan specific to your needs. This complex planning usually takes one to two weeks. Before you leave, you will be given your treatment appointments and any special instructions.
First Day/Block Verification
If, at any time during your treatment, you have a question or concern, please do not hesitate to ask. Our nurses are always available to you and they will help to determine if you need to see a physician.
During the course of your treatment, you may experience side effects from the radiation. You can learn more about possible associated side effects in Frequently Asked Questions. Please bring these to the attention of your nurse or physician so they can monitor them and provide you with specific instructions.
For many months, you may continue to experience subtle changes as a result of your treatment. Therefore, it is very important for you to continue with your follow up appointments. Future follow-up visits will be scheduled every three to six months so that your physician can continue to monitor your health. Routine scans may be ordered prior to your appointment.
Additionally, your radiation oncologist will continue to work with your medical oncologist and/or primary care physician to ensure you maintain good health.