WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN HAVING RADIATION THERAPY
Are you about to receive radiation therapy for cancer? You are now wondering what you should expect. This guide will help you understand what you should expect throughout the radiation therapy. Radiation therapy often involves the following:
A doctor will review your medical records and a physical exam will be done. He will then talk to you about his findings and will discuss the options of treatment plans. If radiation is a needed part of the treatment plan, the medical staff will develop your treatment plan which is well known as simulation. The doctor will also talk about the benefits of therapy and this is your opportunity to ask questions. He will then provide you with consent form which you should read and sign prior to treatment. You should always remember that it is important to read and understand the form before signing it.
2. CT Simulation
During simulation, a therapist will take x-ray of the body part that will be treated. By using the x-ray as a guide, the therapist will use a marker to outline the area on your skin. The temporary marks are very important since they will act as a map to guide your treatment.
3. Treatment Planning
Treatment planning is process that includes identifying the tumor and other areas that need to be treated, designing a beam arrangement, prescribing the appropriate dose of radiation. The goal is to maximize the appropriate dose of radiation to the tumor while limiting the amount of radiation to the surrounding normal tissue. There are usually several team members involved including the radiation oncologist, medical physicist, medical dosimetrist and radiation therapist.
4. Radiation Treatment
Treatment is usually given everyday Monday through Friday at the same time. The length of the treatment may vary depending on the site and the doctors prescription, but it is usually in the range of 15 to 30 minutes. The physician and staff will advise the patient on what to wear and whether to use certain products on the skin. During the treatment, you should lie on the treatment position while radiation beam will be targeted to the specific area where tumor is located. Technologists will not be inside the room but will be monitoring your treatment via audio and video camera in another room. Radiation therapy is usually painless. Once a week, the patient will be seen by the radiation oncologist to address any side effects that may occur and to evaluate the progress of the treatment process.