Radiation therapy at Advanced ROS is an outpatient procedure where you come and go from your home each day for treatment. Most patients receiving
external beam radiation therapy are treated once a day, five days a week, from two to eight weeks. Patients
with some types of cancers may receive internal radiation therapy
(brachytherapy), where radioactive sources are placed inside the
body. For more information about brachytherapy, click here.
Your treatment process will vary depending on the
type of treatment your doctor recommends for your unique situation.
Most patients receiving external beam therapy will go through the
Step 1: Consultation with your Radiation Oncologist
During this appointment, Dr. Gerstley or Dr. Torrey
will review your current health records, diagnostic tests and any
procedures you have had and perform a physical exam. He or she will
discuss with you the treatment goals, therapy options and potential
side effects you might experience. When you decide to proceed with
radiation treatment, we will schedule you for a “Simulation”.
Step 2: Simulation
In the Simulation (or CT Simulation), your doctor and
the radiation therapist work together to determine the exact area or
“field” where the radiation will be directed. Simulation
is done while you are lying on a CT scanning machine table and usually
consists of the following steps:
· Making an immobilization device (a device
that is custom-molded to your body to help keep you still during
· Placing temporary or permanent reference marks on your
· Taking CT images of the area to be treated to give us detailed
· Transferring the images to our physics lab so that the
doctor and physics staff can develop your treatment plan, a process
that typically takes 5 to 7 days.
At the end of the Simulation, you will meet with the
Oncology Nurse who will schedule your next appointment and discuss
side effects, nursing care and answer any questions you have.
Step 3: Treatment planning
You do not need to be here for this step, but a lot
will be going on behind the scenes in the week following your Simulation.
The doctor, physicist and dosimetrist work together to interpret
the information they have gathered and develop a highly precise and
specific plan for your treatment. The most sophisticated computers
are used to create a 3D virtual image of the area, identify the
exact target(s), and determine the best technique and the best shape
for the radiation beams. Computers also allow us to predict how
the radiation will interact with tissues; we can run scenarios that
help us choose the best treatment strategy for you given the specific
goals and the many variables involved.
Step 4: Plan Verify (PV) and/or First Day of Treatment
(30 minutes to 1 hour)
Some patients may require a second simulation called
a “Plan Verify” (PV) or “Simple Sim” procedure.
It’s like a dress rehearsal for a play, when we double-check
your treatment plan by doing a run-through. Using the immobilization
device and the marks placed during Simulation we will put
you in the exact position necessary for treatment. You may or may
not receive your first treatment on the same day. We will take special
x-rays called “port films” to verify that you are in
correct alignment and that the radiation is directed from the proper
angle and is the correct shape.
Step 5: Regular Treatments (15 minutes per day)
Your daily treatment takes only a few minutes, the
additional time is needed to set up the equipment and place you
in the correct position on the treatment table. The radiation therapist
leaves the room and turns on the machine, which will then move around
you as it delivers radiation from different angles. You just need
to lie still and breathe normally. Visual and voice contact with
the therapist is always maintained by closed-circuit television
and intercom. If you are concerned about anything that happens in
the treatment room, you can alert the therapist and the machine
can be stopped at any time.
At least once a week your radiation oncologist will
meet with you to assess your response to treatment and any side
effects. However, you may request to see the doctor at any time
by letting your therapist or one of our nurses know. Our therapists
and nurses have been trained to recognize various reactions to radiation
and they may suggest that the doctor see you before or after treatment
if they think that it is necessary.
About once a week the radiation therapist will take
additional “port” films to make sure that your treatment
fields are still aligned properly, which takes an extra 5 to 10
How will I feel during treatment? What about side
There is no pain involved in radiation treatment and
you will not become radioactive. Any side effects are specific to
the site being treated and vary for each person. Most side
effects from radiation are temporary and subside after the treatment
has ended. You will receive detailed information about possible
side effects from your treatment. Click here for a list of common side
effects by treatment site.
Step 6: Follow-up Appointments
When your treatment is completed, your doctor will
discuss with you the need for follow-up appointments.