At RGU Radiation Center, our goal is for you to understand your treatment plan and feel comfortable with your care. Our staff works hard to treat each patient with individualized care. Each situation is unique but here is an example of how we approach our planning process:
Planning and Diagnostics*
- Using the information gathered in positioning and imaging, the radiation oncologist, medical physicist, and dosimetrist (a person specially trained to calculate and plan radiation doses) work together to design the best IMRT treatment plan for your situation. As part of the treatment planning, your medical physicist conducts extensive quality assurance testing with the treatment equipment, to be sure that your planned treatment can be accurately and easily carried out.
- To verify accurate positioning before you begin treatment, X-rays will be taken of your planned treatment position, using the linear accelerator. Verification may take half an hour or more, and may happen in conjunction with your first treatment session.
IMRT Treatment Protocol*
- IMRT treatments are usually given once a day, five days a week (Monday through Friday), for five to nine weeks. The weekend breaks give your normal cells time to recover. Your treatment schedule may be different depending on several factors, including the size and location of your cancer, the type of cancer, and your general health.
- The daily treatment sessions usually last about fifteen to thirty minutes. Most of this time is used by the radiation therapist to ensure accurate positioning of your treatment area. You may notice laser lights in the room; these help the therapist make sure you are level and straight on the treatment table. Dose delivery itself may only take a few minutes.
- The treatment radiation given by the linear accelerator is invisible and you will not feel it, just as you do not feel an X-ray. The accelerator emits a buzz as it produces the radiation beams. You may also hear the quiet, high-pitched sound of the MLC and see the leaves move. lt is important to líe as still as possible during this time, so that the radiation dose is delivered to the exact same treatment area each time.
- You will be alone in the room during delivery, but always be able to communicate with the therapist via an intercom system. The therapist observes you on television monitors and controls the accelerator from outside the room. The accelerator will move around you to the first treatment angle specified in your treatment plan, administer radiation, then move to the next specified angle to administer radiation. The number of angles depends on your treatment plan.
Even though it is important to lie very still during treatment, you do not have to hold your breath unless instructed to do so.
We want you to ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel comfortable with the treatment process. Our staff is here to assist you and make sure you understand your treatment plan.
When your course of treatment is completed, you will have a series of follow-up visits in which your doctor will monitor your condition and the effects of the treatment. Your doctor may request blood tests, X-rays and/or scans at these appointments. You will discuss with your doctor how to stay healthy after treatment. Ask about nutrition, exercise and environmental changes that could help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Equally as important, find out about support groups for cancer patients and survivors, so that you can connect with others who have have had similar experiences.