The MC Radiation Therapy Process
The process of radiation therapy will be customized for our patients, depending on which form of radiation therapy patients and their physicians choose as their options. Overall, there are five basic steps of radiation therapy that we can share to give patients an idea of what to expect.
These are the steps followed by MC Radiation Oncology Center; Initial consultation, simulation, treatment planning, treatment delivery, weekly management and post treatment follow-up.
Step 1: Initial consultation
Consultation is the first step of the radiation therapy process. This involves an appointment with a radiation oncologist, who reviews a patient’s medical records, pathology reports and radiology images and performs a physical examination. Based on this review, The specific radiation therapy treatment is chosen for the patient and they will be offered an appointment for simulation.
Step 2: Treatment Setup or Simulation at MC Radiation
A special CT scan (called CT/Simulation) is acquired for every patient. Your physicians use the scans to identify the size, shape and location of the lesion/tumor along with the surrounding vital structures to be avoided.
You will be placed in the treatment position, and often there will be customized “immobilization” devices such as mesh masks, headrests, or form-fit body molds to maintain your body position the same on a day to day basis. Sometimes, the area on your body that requires treatment will be marked with a tiny tattoo “dot”. This will help with the treatment set and ensure that the radiation is directed properly each day. The process is simple and painless.
Step 3: Treatment Planning
Your previously obtained CT scan and data are sent to the treatment-planning computer system where the physicians’ team will use advanced software to customize the radiation beams that will be delivered to the tumor or lesion during your treatment. Treatment plans are customized for each patient and become the blueprint for treatment delivery. Developing the treatment plan may be a complex process aided by the use of computers that recreate your “virtual anatomy” and location of your cancer or tumor. It may take several days to complete the treatment planning process. You do not need to be present during this step.
Step 4: Treatment Delivery
The number of treatments vary depending and per diagnosis (between 1 and 35 daily treatments).
Arriving – Wear comfortable clothing and no jewelry. You may bring your favorite music to listen to during the treatment. Try to relax knowing this will be a painless procedure. Feel free to bring a list of questions to ask the radiation team. We are here to ensure your comfort and safety.
You will be asked to lie on the treatment table and will be fitted with the custom mask or body mold made for you earlier during the set-up process. In some cases a mild sedative will be given to you to help you relax.
During treatment, you will need to lie still. The length of treatment varies depending on the location of your lesion/tumor. The image guidance system periodically compares x-ray images to the CT scan to ensure the radiation is targeted accurately at the tumor.
Step 5: Weekly patient management
Over the course of radiation therapy, you will meet with your doctor at least once a week as well as the other members of the treatment team, including nurses. In addition, should you have concerns or symptoms that need to be addressed, you may meet with any of your treatment team members on any day at your request.
When your treatment sessions are completed, our nursing staff will do an assessment and once completed you will be released to go home and may resume normal activity.
Step 6: Post Treatment Follow-up
Upon completion of your treatment, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled to monitor the recovery and overall health of our patients. Additional diagnostic tests may be ordered. Reports on the status of our patients are sent to all physicians involved in patient care. As time goes by, the frequency of visits to the Department of Radiation Oncology will decrease, but physicians and other providers are always available to talk with patients and address any questions and concerns they may have.