Radiation oncology is a medical specialty that uses radiation to treat cancer.
Radiation therapy carefully administers regulated doses of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells.
If your provider has recommended radiation therapy, here is what you can expect:
Step 1: Consultation
Your consultation appointment will take about an hour. You will meet with a radiation oncology nurse who will talk with you about your current and past medical history. The nurse will also review any medications you may be taking.
You will also meet with a radiation oncologist who will review your medical history and test results.
At this time, you will learn if you can benefit from radiation therapy. Procedural details and potential side effects of therapy will be explained to you.
If the radiation oncologist feels that additional tests are necessary, they will be ordered for you.
What to bring to your consultation appointment:
- A list of your current medications and the dose taken
- Health insurance card
- Advanced directive or medical power of attorney, if relevant
- A list of questions you would like to ask
Step 2: A Treatment Plan
If the radiation oncologist recommends it, and you agree that radiation therapy would benefit you, there will be another appointment made to plan your treatment.
This planning session involves a simulation where the radiation oncology team determines the placement of the radiation beams. This helps ensure that the prescribed radiation is accurately targeted to the affected area while minimizing the impact on healthy tissues nearby. The simulation session will last approximately one hour.
Step 3: Beginning Treatment
Once your treatment plan has been determined, we will work with you to find the best radiation treatment time for you. Treatments are scheduled during the week, and your appointment time will be the same throughout the entire course of treatment.
The Radiation Oncologist is the physician who oversees radiation therapy treatments and works with the radiation therapy team to develop your treatment plan and to ensure that each treatment is given accurately. The Radiation Oncologist also monitors your progress and adjusts your treatments as necessary.
Medical physicists oversee the work of the dosimetrist to help ensure that treatments are properly tailored to each patient. They collaborate with radiation oncologists to design treatment routines, take precise measurements of the radiation beam and monitor equipment and procedures to ensure that each patient properly receives the prescribed dose of radiation.
Medical dosimetrists work closely with the radiation oncologist and the medical physicist to carefully develop a treatment plan and to calculate the exact dose of radiation specifically required for each patient. They aim to effectively treat the tumor while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.
A radiation therapist is a specially licensed therapist who administers daily radiation treatment under the doctor’s prescription and supervision. They also maintain daily records and regularly check the equipment that provide radiation treatments.