We know that being diagnosed with cancer and going through treatments can be a stressful and trying experience. We will strive to create a positive and supportive environment at our treatment facilities and work with your family, volunteers and other physicians to make your treatment as convenient as possible.
Overview of Radiation Treatment
You will meet with one of our doctors to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options. You and your loved ones will have time to ask questions and express any concerns about side effects, risks and alternative treatment options. Your doctor will review your diagnosis and medical records, which may include CT or MRI scans, and pathology or biopsy reports. This information will help determine whether pre-treatment procedures are needed for your customized treatment plan. The procedures that may be required as part of your treatment plan, and the order in which they will occur, will be explained at this time. Our nurses will meet with you during your visit and helps address your needs and often assess any social, nutritional or additional care you may require.
Pre-Treatment Planning and Simulation
Designing your custom radiation treatment plan involves going through a simulation. No radiation therapy is delivered but your physician will position you in the treatment position and obtain images which may include a PET-CT, 4D-CT or other images which will be used to create your radiation treatment plan. Your treatment may require a soft mesh facial mask or customized padding, which is fitted during the CT scan. You may need small tissue markers known as fiducials inserted in or near your tumor. These are tiny metal seeds that help the CyberKnife accurately track your tumor or lesion as you breathe during treatment. The markers are inserted through a needle during an outpatient appointment
Final Treatment Peer Review and Quality Assurance
Once your treatment plan is finalized and approved by your doctor, a rigorous quality assurance process takes place to ensure your treatment plan can be delivered accurately and safely. Your plan will be presented to all physicians in the group for scrutiny and consensus opinion before your treatment begins. This allows for discussion regarding the treatment you are receiving from other members of the team.
One the day of your first treatment, you will be positioned in the same manner as your simulation. Additional images are usually taken to verify your positioning before your treatment is delivered. You will usually have the same treatment time every day. Radiation treatments are painless and are similar to having an X-ray or a CT scan. You will not feel different after treatment and you will not be radioactive. You will meet with your physician once a week during treatment to monitor side effects or address any concerns you might have.
Once your treatment is completed, we will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the area that was treated. In many cases, your physician will continue to monitor the rest of your body as well. We will also manage side effects that you might have experienced during treatment and complications that may arise in the future.
There are helpful organizations and website that can help you understand your diagnosis and treatment better. Here are a few sites you might find useful.
- American Cancer Society 1-800-ACS-2345
- National Cancer Institute 1-800-422-6237
- Living Beyond Breast Cancer 1-888-753-LBBC (5222)
- Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 972-855-1600
- Melanoma Research Foundation 1-800-673-1290
- Look Good Feel Better 800-395-LOOK
- Prostate Cancer Foundation 1-800-757-CURE
- Lymphoma Research Foundation 1-800-500-9976
- American Lung Association 1-800-LUNG-USA