Process of receiving radiation oncology treatment
Consultation: The first step is to schedule a consultation with a radiation oncologist. During this appointment, the doctor will review the patient’s medical history and imaging studies, such as CT or MRI scans, to determine if radiation therapy is appropriate for the patient’s cancer. If radiation therapy is recommended, the doctor will discuss the treatment plan and answer any questions the patient may have.
Treatment planning: Once a patient has decided to proceed with radiation therapy, the next step is to develop a treatment plan. This involves using advanced imaging technologies to create a detailed map of the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue. The radiation oncologist will then use this map to determine the optimal radiation dose and treatment technique.
Simulation: Before treatment begins, patients may undergo a simulation session to ensure that they are positioned correctly for treatment. During this session, the patient will lie on a treatment table while a machine called a simulator is used to take images and ensure that the patient is in the correct position.
Treatment sessions: After the simulation, patients will begin their treatment sessions. These sessions typically take place on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, over the course of several weeks. The radiation therapy is delivered using a machine called a linear accelerator, which is carefully calibrated to deliver the optimal radiation dose to the tumor. Each treatment session typically lasts between 15 and 30 minutes.
Follow-up: After treatment is complete, patients will continue to be monitored by their radiation oncologist to ensure that the cancer has been successfully treated and to manage any side effects. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to monitor the patient’s progress and check for any signs of recurrence.