What to Expect
During this time, the radiation oncologist will discuss your cancer and treatment options that are available to you. The physician will discuss length of treatment, side effects and further tests needed. This is the time for you to ask questions. If possible, we recommend that you bring a family member with you.
Simulation is the first part of the treatment planning process. The radiation oncologist uses x-ray equipment (called a simulator) to aid in planning your treatment. Sometimes a non-toxic dye will be given to you to outline certain internal organs. Prior to the simulation, the radiation therapist may place you into a special positioning device that will help you hold your body still during treatment.
As the simulation is being done, you will be given either small black permanent markings on your skin about the size of a freckle, or similarly sized semi-permanent marks. They will create a focus for the treatment machine. You will be able to bathe or shower normally and should not be concerned about accidentally washing them off. Planning marks allow treatment to be given to precisely the same spot each time.
The machine used to treat your illness is designed to provide therapeutic doses of radiation. It is called a linear accelerator. In some cases, protective blocks will be made especially for you to shield your healthy tissues. You will lie on the table and the table will raise you up under the treatment machine. The therapist will align your body to ensure proper administration of therapy. Patients differ in the number of angles and sites for treatment. Your therapist will monitor your treatment from outside the room with the use of a closed circuit television and intercom. The machine will create a buzzing sound that you will be able to hear while the radiation is delivered. It is extremely important that you do not move during your treatment.