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Radiation Oncology

If your doctor thinks radiation therapy is indicated for you, consultation is arranged with a radiation oncologist, a physician specializing in treating cancer with radiation, to discuss the treatment thoroughly. Learn what to expect going into radiation treatment by watching this video from the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

First Visit

Unless your doctor has determined there is an immediate need to begin treatment, your first appointment in the Radiation Oncology Department in the Valley Health Cancer Center is for consultation only. We encourage you to complete our new patient forms ahead of time and bring them to your appointment.

You will meet one of the nurses on your first visit. One of our radiation oncologists will be in charge of your care and will get your medical history, perform a physical exam and make recommendations regarding treatment.

In general, radiation treatments are given daily, Monday through Friday. The radiation oncologist decides on the amount of radiation you receive. The nurse is always available for questions or concerns but will visit with you once a week while you are under treatment.

Simulation (Treatment Planning)

Simulation is the beginning step of starting your radiation treatment. The radiation therapist carries out the simulation process under the supervision of the radiation oncologist. The main goal is to assure that you will be in the same exact position every day for your treatments. Click here to learn more about the simulation process.

It is not always possible to do any simulation on your first visit. Treatment planning also varies depending on the type of treatment you are having, so it may take anywhere from three days to a couple of weeks to plan your treatment.

Treatment

Once you are positioned on the table in exactly the same position as you were during your simulation, the radiation therapist will step out of the room to take x-rays. This is to assure the radiation oncologist and the therapist that we are treating exactly the same area of the body that we planned to treat. The radiation oncologist will look at these images before your first treatment. For quality assurance, we will take new x-rays at least once a week, and sometimes every day, depending on the area being treated.

Once the doctor has approved the x-ray images, you will receive your treatment. You will not feel anything during the treatment, and it is very important that you lie as still as possible. The radiation therapist will not be in the room during treatment but can see and hear you, and will come right in if you have any problems.

Appointments

We try to work with patients as much as possible, but sometimes you may not get the exact appointment time you want. If that time becomes available while you are under treatment, we will be happy to switch your appointment to that time. As a courtesy to other patients, it is very important that you arrive on time for your appointment every day and be ready at your scheduled time. If you need to change your appointment time or for any reason are unable to make it to one of your treatments, please call and let us know.

Side Effects

Your radiation oncologist or one of the radiation oncology nurses can help with any side effects that you may experience. Please let the radiation therapist know at any time if you have a problem so the nurse can be notified and meet with you to address the issue.

Our Accreditation

We are accredited by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) through APEx – Accreditation Program for Excellence®. Facilities accredited through APEx must demonstrate their safety and quality processes and that they adhere to patient-centered care by promoting effective communication, coordinated treatments and strong patient engagement. Learn more about how accredited facilities such as ours use the process of accreditation to benefit patients and find additional educational materials on radiation therapy treatment here.

Additional Information

Varian’s empowerME program was designed to empower patients with easily understandable, relevant information about radiation therapy, so patients know what to expect and are more comfortable and confident going into treatment. Click here to learn more.

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