What to Expect
Steps in the Radiation Treatment Process
- Consultation – Consult with your radiation oncologist (1-2 hours)
- Simulation — may be scheduled per physician’s order (generally 1 hour)
- Radiation therapy (2 to 8 weeks, each session lasting approximately 15-30 minutes)
Once referred to Riverwest by your physician, your first step is to make an appointment for a consultation. This is when you meet with a radiation oncologist to determine if radiation therapy is right for you. A radiation oncologist is a physician who has special training in using radiation to treat diseases. The consultation lasts 1 to 2 hours. This gives the radiation oncologist time to review your records and examine you. You and your doctor will then discuss possible treatment options, along with the risks and benefits of radiation therapy.
After you and your physician have decided a course of radiation therapy can benefit you, your next step will be to make an appointment for a simulation. Simulation generally lasts 1 hour.
At the CT Simulation appointment, you will meet with a radiation therapy nurse. The nurse will go over the treatment process with you, including how treatments are scheduled, side effects, and self-care during and after treatment. This is a good time to ask any questions you might have about radiation therapy.
For simulation, you will be scanned by computed tomography (CT) scanner, a special planning x-ray machine. This x-ray allows us to pinpoint the location of the treatment area on your body. An immobilization device, such as a face mask or vac-lok may be formed at this time to ensure you are in the same position daily for your treatment.
Temporary skin markings may be applied. These markings assist the radiation therapist in lining up the body to ensure accurate treatment. Therefore, you will want to keep the marks on throughout the entire 2-8 week process. Additionally, a CT scan or MRI may be done to further outline the treatment area.
The information obtained from the simulation, will be used by the dosimetrist, physicist and physician to plan your radiation treatment. Once the treatment plan is completed, you will return to the Center to have the treatment plan verified. This may be done on the Simulator or actual treatment machine.
Following the simulation appointment, you will be scheduled for radiation treatments. Therapy is given daily Monday through Friday and lasts an average of 2 to 8 weeks. The number of treatments varies person to person, and will be determined as part of your treatment planning. Each treatment takes approximately 15 – 30 minutes (time may vary).
Classified as immediate and long term side effects. Side effects are specific to the area of the body being treated. The nursing staff is available to discuss side effects with you.
After the completion of therapy, you will be scheduled for follow-up visits at the clinic, frequently at first and then yearly after that, depending on your needs. Additional diagnostic tests may be prescribed to evaluate your therapy’s effectiveness.