Overview Of Radiotherapy In Cancer
Before, during and after radiotherapy
Before Radiation Treatment
- Meeting with a Radiation Oncologist for a Consult: Before determining whether you would like to undergo Radiation therapy treatments, you will first consult with a radiation oncologist to help determine whether Radiation therapy is right for you.
During your appointment, you must first speak with a nurse. The nurse will escort you into an exam room to report your weight, vital signs, drugs, and allergies. First, you should meet with the physicians- usually, a radiation oncology nurse and radiation oncologist should meet with you. We will test you and ask you questions. You will be asked about your current medical conditions, past medical history, past surgical history, drugs, and lifestyle.
Treatment methods, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of these treatments, will be discussed with you. If Radiation therapy treatments are suggested, the doctors will speak to you about treatment plans. In case you decide that Radiation therapy is right for you, you will be scheduled for a planning CT scans and simulation.
- Treatment Planning CT Scans and Simulations: For the radiation beams to be impactful, they must be directed at the very same target for each treatment. The procedure of measuring your body and marking your skin to help your team direct the radiation beams is called a simulation or treatment planning.
During a simulation or care preparation CT scan, you will be put on the table the same way you will be for care. Since positioning is so critical for your care, you may have a special mask or mould made. The radiation therapists will mark the region on the body that the doctor needs to be treated with Radiotherapy and take X-rays of the region. Depending on the area treated, your physician may request that you take IV contrast or barium to drink. Contrast is used to highlight organs so that they can be seen on X-Ray or CT images. Once the X-rays or CT scans are done, the radiation specialist will mark the skin with a series of small tattoos. The tattoos will be used to place you for your radiation treatments.
- Treatment Planning: If you are done with your treatment planning CT or simulation, your radiation oncologist and other members of the treatment team will review the details. Tumours are not ordinary-they come in various shapes and sizes. To configure the Radiation therapy to the scale, shape and position of your tumour, the treatment team (radiation oncologists, nurses, medical physicists and dosimetrists) uses computers and the treatment preparation photos to prepare your care.
Based on the complexity of your treatment, this step can take anywhere from two days to two weeks. After reviewing all of your information and your treatment plan, your doctor will write a prescription that outlines exactly how much radiation you will receive and what parts of your body will receive the radiation.
The radiation therapist will give your treatment following your radiation oncologist ‘s instructions. The first day of therapy would take about 45 minutes. On the first day, the treatments will take about 15-30 minutes. The radiation therapists will help you lie down on the table in the same position you were in for the treatment planning CT or simulation. They will be using the tattoos that were put on your skin during your treatment planning session to help align you, and that make changes according to your treatment plan.
Once you are positioned, X-rays (also called port films)are taken on the first day of treatment and once a week. The port films are used to test the positioning and will not reveal whether any disease is present. Once your doctor checks the port videos, you will receive the first medication. During the port films and the appointments, the therapists must move out of the room. We are closely observing you on a television screen while providing your radiation. There is a microphone in the recovery room so you can still speak with the therapist if you have any questions. The computer can be stopped at any moment if you are feeling sick or irritated. During your care, the therapist can transfer the care machine or treatment table. The machine can make noises during therapy that sound like clicking, knocking or whirring, but the radiation therapist is in full control of the machine at all times.
Weekly Status Checks
During radiation therapy, the radiation oncologist and nurse will visit you periodically to monitor your progress, assess any side effects, and answer any questions you may have. You may want to bring a family member or friend with you to these appointments.
After Treatment: Follow-Up
After therapy is finished, follow-up appointments will be arranged so that your radiation oncologist can make sure your recovery is progressing properly and can continue to track your health. Your doctor can order laboratories, X-rays and other Diagnostic Tests.
As time goes on, the number of times you need to see your radiation oncologist should decrease. Nonetheless, please note that the radiation oncology team will still be available if you need to talk to anyone about the diagnosis.