Radiation 101

Treatment Process


Your treatment process starts with a very thorough evaluation of your past and present medical history and a physical exam. Prior to arriving for your initial consultation your records including imaging studies, pathology reports, pertinent studies, and hospital reports will be sent to us for evaluation by your referring physicians. If you are self-referring, you may be asked to provide these materials to our clinic prior to your scheduled visit.

During your consultation you will be given information on the role of radiation in treatment of your particular cancer as well as a thorough discussion of the risks, benefits, and side effects of treatment. 

If additional studies are required prior to making treatment recommendations, these will be discussed with you during the consultation. If no additional studies are required, you should have an understanding of what your treatment plan will be, approximately how many days of treatment, and what side effects to expect as you go through treatment and afterwards by the completion of your consultation. 

Before Treatment

Treatment planning consists of one or more sessions where your radiation field is mapped on your body. This often entails having a CT scan of the treatment area or taking X-Rays of the treatment area. We will frequently place very small (freckle size), but permanent tattoos on your body at the end of this process. This allows us to reproduce your field exactly every day of treatment. In some cases, you will be brought back for a check to verify the field position with x-rays before starting the first treatment.

During Treatment

Your treatment will be administered on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, over the course of about two to eight weeks. Each day you can expect to be done with treatment in about 30 minutes. You will be working with a team of physicians, nurses, therapists, dosimetrists, and physicists to make sure the treatments are given according to the plan each day.

The side effects of radiation are cumulative and often do not present until the second week of treatment. Side effects from radiation are specific to the area being treated and will be discussed with you in detail at your initial consultation.

Your physician will meet with you on a weekly basis as you go through your therapy to monitor your tumor response and how well you are tolerating the treatment. A nurse is also available to answer questions about side effects as you go through your course of therapy. In certain cases such as stereotactic radiosurgery, the treatment is delivered in one to five (1 - 5) treatment days and may take over an hour to deliver each day.

After Treatment

Once your treatment is complete you will continue to follow up in our department. Most patients are scheduled for follow-up 1 month after completing treatment and given specific instructions for management of radiation related side effects in the interim. Continued follow-up examinations, laboratory work, and imaging studies will be coordinated with your referring physicians.