We know that the diagnosis of cancer may seem scary. At Peninsula Cancer Center, we’re committed to providing the very best in oncology care, while supporting you 100% through this process.
What Happens during Radiation Therapy?
Here are the steps you’ll go through at Peninsula Cancer Center:
- Initial Meeting with the Radiation Oncologist. The radiation oncologist will review your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and discuss recommendations for treatment with you and your family.
- Simulation. In preparation to undergo radiotherapy, we first obtain a CT scan in the treatment position and align it to our equipment. This is to determine the exact size, shape, and position of the area to be treated within the body, known as the treatment site. These images are then used to plan the patients’ treatment. Previous MRI and/or PET scan will sometimes be merged with the treatment planning CT in order to best visualize the treatment site. During the simulation process, marks with ink and tiny tattoos will be placed on the body for daily alignment purposes.
- Treatment Planning. Once your images have been taken, your physician develops a treatment plan. The plan is created using treatment planning software, which calculates position, dose, and frequency. Before the actual commencement, the treatment may be simulated again to ensure maximum effectiveness (in other words, a dress rehearsal to make sure that everything is correct before the actual treatment takes place).
- Treatment. Treatment is outpatient. You will lie on a couch under the machine, and be asked to remain still during the actual procedure. The treatment is completely painless – radiation cannot be seen or felt while it’s being given. As treatment progresses, it’s important that the plan is adhered to as any missed treatments (caused through sickness or equipment breakdown) may affect the success. The patient usually receives the same procedure each day for a “course of treatment,” which can last up to six to eight weeks. Treatment is monitored regularly and may be adjusted if the patient suffers from adverse side effects.
- Follow-Up. Once the course of treatment is complete, you will meet with the radiation oncologist to formulate a follow-up plan. The plan will be tailored to your needs and accommodate the other physicians that may be involved in your care as well. We will also discuss ways of returning you to optimal wellness.