Radiation Therapy Treatment Process
We want you to be as knowledgeable about the process as possible, so we’ve outlined the typical treatment process. If you have any questions or would like more information, we encourage you to call us to schedule a consultation. In addition to the information below, we also have a guide to Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer.
At your first visit, you’ll meet with a radiation oncologist. They will review your medical history and pathology reports, conduct a physical exam and take plenty of time (usually an hour and a half) to answer your questions. If you are ready to move forward with treatment, our team will help you set an appointment for positioning.
At this appointment, your medical team will determine the exact position you should be in for treatment. To help you maintain your position during all of your visits, we’ll create a custom mold of your body that you’ll rest in each time you receive treatment. (A prostate cancer patient, for instance, will have a molded “pillow” that holds his torso in the proper position.) In addition to using the mold, your position will be meticulously documented with lasers.
Once your treatment position has been established, the medical team will conduct a CT scan to gather the data needed to create your personal treatment plan.
Positioning typically only takes an hour to complete.
Using the information from the positioning and imaging sessions, the radiation oncologist, medical physicist, and dosimetrist (a person specially trained to calculate and plan radiation doses) work together to design the best IMRT treatment plan for you. This process usually takes 3 days.
Once your custom treatment plan is ready, the physicist performs a simulation treatment on a “phantom patient.” After that, you’ll return for a final planning appointment. Your medical team will use imaging technology to verify that the treatment plan they’ve created matches your anatomy and fine-tune your position if necessary.
Treatment can start as soon as your plan is finalized. Our team will work with you to select a regular treatment time the fits your schedule. Treatment visits usually take a total of 30 minutes; most of this time is used for undressing, dressing, and positioning.
The actual delivery of radiation lasts only a moment or two. The number of treatment sessions required varies based on the type of cancer you have and the schedule your medical team recommends.
For prostate cancer patients, treatments are usually given once a day, 5 days a week for 9 weeks for a total of 45 treatments.
Monitoring & Follow-Up Care
Once a week, you’ll meet with your nurse and your doctor. They’ll monitor your weight, vital signs, and symptoms. They will help guide you through any difficulties you may encounter. At the conclusion of your treatments, you’ll meet with your doctor to review the treatment’s effectiveness and discuss your long-term prognosis. After these visits, patients usually return to their referring physician for routine cancer monitoring.
What types of cancer do you treat?
We treat all types of cancers for which radiation therapy is a recommended treatment option. This includes prostate cancer, breast cancer, gynecological cancers, head/neck cancers, lung cancer, bone cancer, rectal cancer and several others.
Can I work during treatment?
Many patients work while receiving treatments. You can expect to have some fatigue, ranging from mild to severe, during treatment. We encourage you to maintain the work and activity schedule that’s comfortable for you.