Radiation is a proven, effective way to treat and in some cases, cure cancer in our patients. Radiation is also used to treat non-cancerous conditions. Nearly 60% of cancer patients will receive some form of radiation during treatment. Cancer treatment may include the use of radiation alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. Radiation can cure cancer, control the growth of cancer cells or relieve symptoms.
Before this course of treatment is used, you will have a consultation with a Radiation Oncologist, a physician that specializes in the use of radiation for the treatment of cancer. Your consultation will include the following tests and procedures:
- Physical exam
- Blood and urine tests
- Diagnostic X-ray
Radiation treatment is delivered by a linear accelerator, a large machine similar to a CT scanner. Your radiation oncologist will explain the risks and benefits of the procedure, discuss all laboratory test results and possible outcomes of the treatment. You will be asked to sign consent forms prior to beginning radiation treatment.
Steps for Radiation Treatment
CT Simulation — A CT machine simulated the movement of a linear accelerator. The CT simulator will produce extremely accurate, high quality x-rays of the area to be treated.
Marking — Your skin will be marked with small dots or lines in permanent ink to outline the area of your body to be treated. Because it is essential that the area is accurately targeted each day, you may be provided with a customized immobilization device. Note: Sometimes pen markings may rub off on clothing and underwear.
Treatment Plan — Your simulation and markings will help the radiation therapist to plan your treatment for the course of time required. This will be discussed with you in detail so that you may prepare for each day of treatment.
Set Up — You will undergo a trial run on the actual machine that will deliver your radiation treatment. After being placed in the machine as you were during the CT simulation, electronic portal images will be taken of the path of the beams. Once everything is reviewed by your doctor, your treatment can begin.
Day of Your Treatment
You will receive a specific number of treatments based on the type of cancer, and what is recommended by your radiation oncologist. These treatments will usually occur on consecutive days. You will be provided with your schedule and directions to the facility. Fasting prior to treatment on the day of your appointment is not necessary, but inform your doctor and radiation therapist if you have any special dietary needs. You will be asked to change into a hospital gown, so wear outer clothing that is easy to remove. You may normally be able to leave your underwear on during the procedure, as long as there are no metal adornments or wires in them. You will be carefully monitored and in full communication with your radiation therapist during the entire procedure. Although treatment times vary, plan on spending anywhere from a few minutes to an hour for your procedure. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask your physician or radiation therapist.