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What to Expect

The Treatment Process

Consultation

Consultation is a time for patients and their families to meet their Cancer Care Team. Consultations last approximately 1 & 1/2 hours.

Please bring the following:

  • List of medications
  • Any x-rays or medical records
  • Insurance cards

Upon arrival we will give you a health questionnaire to complete. You and your family will then be taken to an exam room by a Radiation Oncology Registered Nurse who will review your medical history and perform a health assessment that includes a review of current symptoms and a nutritional screening.

You will then meet your Radiation Oncologist, who will review your history, x-rays, lab, pathology and any additional reports and then perform a complete physical assessment. Once completed, you will be provided with the time needed to have all of your questions answered. We encourage you to write down any questions prior to your appointment.

Our education process begins at time of consultation as we provide information on your specific diagnosis, treatment options, planning and treatment procedures, side effects and management of side effects during treatment. You will be provided with a Personal Health Journal to assist you in organizing all information and educational materials provided.

Simulation

Simulation is a "mapping" process that uses a CT scan or a series of x-rays in order to construct your radiation treatment plan. One of our radiation therapists will perform this process. During the exam, small marks will be drawn on your skin in order to mark the area to be treated. Any additional instructions that are necessary will be provided to you at the time of simulation. Please allow approximately 1 hour for this procedure to be completed.

Verification

During the simulation your treatment area is identified and marked so the physician and dosimetry staff can develop the appropriate treatment plan. After that process has been completed, you will return for another procedure known as verification. The team of therapists will take a series of x-rays in order to verify that you are in the correct position for the treatment plan to be delivered. Marks placed during simulation will be "tattooed" during verification or within the first few days of treatment. This process is virtually painless and will allow the staff to position you accurately on a daily basis. Verification will be done on our conventional simulator or on our linear accelerator. Both of these units have digital imaging in order to speed up the process and minimize your inconvenience. Allow approximately 15-30 minutes for the verification process.

Treatment

The duration of each treatment course will vary depending on the type of cancer and the treatment plan that was developed. The treatment course will last from as short as one week to as long as eight weeks.

If you are receiving daily treatment, these treatments will occur Monday through Friday. Treatment times are scheduled and remain consistent throughout your treatment unless another time is needed. The overall time frame for your daily visit is approximately 15 minutes. These times can vary depending on a number of factors but generally 15 minutes is a good estimate.

Upon your arrival, you may be asked to change into a gown. Our cancer center has several changing rooms located by the nursing station for your convenience. Each day you will lie down on the table in the linear accelerator vault and the therapists will position you so that you will match your treatment plan. The accelerator will move around you during the treatment in order to deliver the radiation to preset locations. You will not feel anything during this time. The machine will make a slight buzzing sound while it operates. Once the treatment is complete you will be assisted off the table and be able to continue on with your normal routine.

On Treatment Visit (OTV)

Once a week, you will have scheduled time in an exam room following your radiation treatment. Your registered nurse will obtain your weight, vital signs, assess pain management, assess your nutritional status and evaluate how you are tolerating your treatment. Your Radiation Oncologist will then see you to perform a physical examination. Again, your family is welcome and encouraged to be with you during that time.

Post Treatment Follow-Up

It is important for you to remember that keeping your follow-up appointments after the completion of your Radiation Therapy is as important as coming to your daily treatments. Your Cancer Care Team will want to see you in follow-up in one month after the completion of treatment then every three to four months for the first two to three years. X-rays, CT Scans, Lab or other additional tests will be ordered periodically.

To schedule patient appointments call (423) 493-1690.

Any managing physician or his/her staff may refer and/or set up patient appointments. Patients who have already been diagnosed with cancer and who would like a second opinion may call for an appointment.