During your initial consultation, you will be interviewed and examined by a Radiation Oncologist. To help us understand your medical status, we will need to obtain copies of your medical records, health history, prescribed medications, and recent medical visits with other specialists, and if applicable, your biopsy reports. We will review your information with you and answer any questions you may have. You will also be asked to provide a list of medications that you are currently taking. You may continue your routine prescription medications unless advised otherwise by your physician.
Developing a Treatment Plan
Once it is determined that radiation therapy is the best way to treat your cancer, treatment planning begins. A treatment plan, which is a collection of measurements, imagery and dosing calculations, will be developed specifically for you so that the post treatment results are the best that they can be. Your custom-made plan is influenced by your overall health, type and stage of your cancer. It also takes into consideration information from other specialists. You will undergo a special CT or PET scan called a "simulation". The imagery acquired during the simulation will allow your physician to target the tumor and avoid the other organs nearby. Your treatment will take place daily over several days or more. In order to ensure that you'll be in the exact same position for each of your radiation treatments, we may use specialized equipment to help hold you in place. Small temporary ink marks may drawn on the skin to assists the therapists with body alignment.
Starting Daily Treatments
When the planning is complete, you will be treated with one or more machines that will deliver the radiation to your prescribed location. These technologies generate high energy x-rays or electrons that destroy tumor cells while minimizing the exposure to the healthy surrounding tissue. Other systems are design to deliver radiation through the use of isotopes and catheters Radiation therapists, who are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), administer the daily treatment under the supervision of the Radiation Oncologist. They record and document treatment progress and run tests on the treatment machines daily to ensure that they are working properly. Most radiation treatments are given five times a week, Monday through Friday.
Post Treatment Care and On Going Support
Most people undergoing radiation treatment are able to continue with their normal activities. You may need to adjust your level of activity temporarily during treatment if you feel it is necessary. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program during this time. Good nutrition during therapy is essential to promote good healing and recovery and the oncology nurse or nutritionist can help you determine the best approach. You will be weighed regularly during radiation therapy to monitor your health and any weight loss. Do your best to eat a normal well-balanced diet with three regular meals, or, if you are unable to tolerate large portions, eat small frequent meals and snacks. Check with your doctor about the use of multivitamins and other dietary supplements. Nutrition information is also available through the oncology nurse.
In addition to the care and information that you will receive, we will provide information for local support groups in the community. Many cancer support groups and national organizations cater to all cancer types such as the American Cancer Society or more specifically like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which provides support and donations for research and treatment for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
Treatment Process DVD
You can request a DVD through our Contact Page that provides a wealth of information regarding how radiation technologies work, the radiation treatment process and the roles of all the staff of the care team.