Cancer Treatment Phoenix | What to Expect | Oncology Center

WHAT TO EXPECT

WHAT TO EXPECT
BEFORE
DURING
AFTER

What Happens Before, During, and After Treatment

Once the diagnosis has been made, you will discuss your treatment options with our board-certified and internationally-recognized radiation oncologists. They will work with you to help recommend the best treatment, or treatments, for your type of cancer.

Depending on your type of cancer, you may need a combination of treatments to fully treat your condition. For example, a patient with breast cancer may need to have a surgeon remove the tumor first, then have a radiation therapy to destroy remaining cancer cells. The patient may also require chemotherapy to destroy any cancer cells that may have spread through the body.

Meeting With a Radiation Oncologist

The first step towards radiation therapy is meeting with a radiation oncologist. During this visit, the oncologist will review your current medical condition, previous medical history, and lifestyle to assess your need for radiation therapy and its anticipated results. The doctor will also perform a physical exam to evaluate the extent of the disease and determine general physical health. After completing a thorough examination of your current condition and health, the oncologist will discuss with you the benefits and risks of radiation therapy specific to your circumstances. The doctor will also take this time to answer any questions you may have. Here are a list of questions that you may want to ask our radiation oncologists before treatment.

Simulation

Simulation refers to the process of measuring and marking your body and skin to help those administering treatment do so safely and with exactness. In order to be most effective, radiation therapy must be aimed precisely at the same target or targets each time treatment is given. Simulation ensures this is done precisely. During simulation, you will be asked to enter the simulation machine in the exact position you will be in when radiation is administered. The radiation therapist then marks the area to be treated directly on your skin or on immobilization devices that help you remain in the same position during treatment. These marks will be made with either a bright, temporary paint or a set of small, permanent tattoos.

During this stage of radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist may also request that special blocks or shields be made to ensure the radiation shapes to your tumor and does not hit normal tissue. Multileaf collimators may also be used to shape beams of radiation to provide safe delivery of radiation therapy.

Treatment Planning

Once simulation is complete, your team of doctors will develop a treatment plan. Your treatment plan will be based on information collected during your first visit, simulation, and a special treatment planning CT scan. This CT scan is in addition to your diagnostic CT scan. Doctors work together and use sophisticated software to design the best treatment plan for you. Once a treatment plan has been decided, your doctor will write a prescription that outlines exactly how much radiation will be administered and exactly where it is to be targeted.

External Beam Radiation Therapy Treatments

External beam radiation therapy is noninvasive and painless, just like getting an X-ray. Treatment is normally administered by a machine, away from your body, by directing the beams of radiation towards your tumor. Radiation therapy is conducted in a series of outpatient visits, so you don’t have to stay at the hospital, and you can be back at home that same day. These type of treatments also mean you won’t have to experience the type of recuperation period that may follow other treatments.

Treatments are usually scheduled Monday through Friday and can last anywhere from one to 10 weeks depending on the size, location, type of cancer you have, the purpose of treatment, and other treatments you may be receiving.

When beginning a treatment, you will be positioned, the equipment will be set up, and if any immobilization were made, they will be placed. This process typically takes five to 15 minutes.

When treatment is ready to begin, the radiation therapist will go into the control room to monitor the treatment. If you have any concerns during the treatment, you can communicate with the therapist through a microphone in the treatment room. If at anytime you begin to feel sick or uncomfortable during treatment, the machine can be stopped.

During treatment, the machine may make noises that sound like clicking, knocking or whirring. These noises are normal and there is nothing to worry about. The radiation therapist is in complete control of the machine at all times. You’ll spend about 10 to 40 minutes in the treatment room, depending on your treatment plan and type of radiation.

Although radiation is carefully aimed to reduce the effect on the normal tissue surrounding the tumor, radiation will affect some healthy cells. Time between daily treatments allows your healthy cells to repair much of the radiation effect, while cancer cells are not as likely to survive.

If you develop certain side effects, your treatment can be delayed a day or more. Any missed treatments may be made up by adding treatments at the end. Along the way, your treatment or radiation dose may be altered as the radiation oncologist monitors your treatment progression. While monitoring your treatment, your doctor may order blood tests, X-rays, and other tests to see how your body is responding to radiation. If the tumor shrinks significantly, another simulation may be required to spare as much normal tissue as possible while destroying the rest of the tumor.

Weekly Status Checks

During radiation therapy, you will have regular checkups with your radiation oncologist and nurse to follow your progress, evaluate whether you are having side effects, recommend treatments for those side effects (such as medication), and address any concerns you may have.

As well as meeting with you, your team of doctors may meet to review the status of your treatment and ensure it is proceeding as planned. During these sessions, the members of the team will discuss your progress with you, as well as any concerns you may have.

Weekly Beam Films

During your course of treatment, images called port films, beam films, or portal verification, will regularly be verified that radiation beams during treatment are in the correct positions. This is an important quality assurance check, but not part of evaluating the tumor itself.

Follow-Up

After treatment is completed, you radiation oncologist will meet with you to make sure your recovery is progressing on target. During your follow-up appointments, your radiation oncologist may also order additional diagnostic tests. Reports taken during your follow-ups may also be sent to the other doctors helping treat your cancer.

As your recovery progresses, the frequency of visiting us at Phoenix CyberKnife Center will decrease; however, your radiation oncology team will always be available should questions arise or you need to speak to someone about your treatment.

WHAT TO EXPECT

What Happens Before, During, and After Treatment

Once the diagnosis has been made, you will discuss your treatment options with our board-certified and internationally-recognized radiation oncologists. They will work with you to help recommend the best treatment, or treatments, for your type of cancer.

Depending on your type of cancer, you may need a combination of treatments to fully treat your condition. For example, a patient with breast cancer may need to have a surgeon remove the tumor first, then have a radiation therapy to destroy remaining cancer cells. The patient may also require chemotherapy to destroy any cancer cells that may have spread through the body.

BEFORE

Meeting With a Radiation Oncologist

The first step towards radiation therapy is meeting with a radiation oncologist. During this visit, the oncologist will review your current medical condition, previous medical history, and lifestyle to assess your need for radiation therapy and its anticipated results. The doctor will also perform a physical exam to evaluate the extent of the disease and determine general physical health. After completing a thorough examination of your current condition and health, the oncologist will discuss with you the benefits and risks of radiation therapy specific to your circumstances. The doctor will also take this time to answer any questions you may have. Here are a list of questions that you may want to ask our radiation oncologists before treatment.

Simulation

Simulation refers to the process of measuring and marking your body and skin to help those administering treatment do so safely and with exactness. In order to be most effective, radiation therapy must be aimed precisely at the same target or targets each time treatment is given. Simulation ensures this is done precisely. During simulation, you will be asked to enter the simulation machine in the exact position you will be in when radiation is administered. The radiation therapist then marks the area to be treated directly on your skin or on immobilization devices that help you remain in the same position during treatment. These marks will be made with either a bright, temporary paint or a set of small, permanent tattoos.

During this stage of radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist may also request that special blocks or shields be made to ensure the radiation shapes to your tumor and does not hit normal tissue. Multileaf collimators may also be used to shape beams of radiation to provide safe delivery of radiation therapy.

Treatment Planning

Once simulation is complete, your team of doctors will develop a treatment plan. Your treatment plan will be based on information collected during your first visit, simulation, and a special treatment planning CT scan. This CT scan is in addition to your diagnostic CT scan. Doctors work together and use sophisticated software to design the best treatment plan for you. Once a treatment plan has been decided, your doctor will write a prescription that outlines exactly how much radiation will be administered and exactly where it is to be targeted.

DURING

External Beam Radiation Therapy Treatments

External beam radiation therapy is noninvasive and painless, just like getting an X-ray. Treatment is normally administered by a machine, away from your body, by directing the beams of radiation towards your tumor. Radiation therapy is conducted in a series of outpatient visits, so you don’t have to stay at the hospital, and you can be back at home that same day. These type of treatments also mean you won’t have to experience the type of recuperation period that may follow other treatments.

Treatments are usually scheduled Monday through Friday and can last anywhere from one to 10 weeks depending on the size, location, type of cancer you have, the purpose of treatment, and other treatments you may be receiving.

When beginning a treatment, you will be positioned, the equipment will be set up, and if any immobilization were made, they will be placed. This process typically takes five to 15 minutes.

When treatment is ready to begin, the radiation therapist will go into the control room to monitor the treatment. If you have any concerns during the treatment, you can communicate with the therapist through a microphone in the treatment room. If at anytime you begin to feel sick or uncomfortable during treatment, the machine can be stopped.

During treatment, the machine may make noises that sound like clicking, knocking or whirring. These noises are normal and there is nothing to worry about. The radiation therapist is in complete control of the machine at all times. You’ll spend about 10 to 40 minutes in the treatment room, depending on your treatment plan and type of radiation.

Although radiation is carefully aimed to reduce the effect on the normal tissue surrounding the tumor, radiation will affect some healthy cells. Time between daily treatments allows your healthy cells to repair much of the radiation effect, while cancer cells are not as likely to survive.

If you develop certain side effects, your treatment can be delayed a day or more. Any missed treatments may be made up by adding treatments at the end. Along the way, your treatment or radiation dose may be altered as the radiation oncologist monitors your treatment progression. While monitoring your treatment, your doctor may order blood tests, X-rays, and other tests to see how your body is responding to radiation. If the tumor shrinks significantly, another simulation may be required to spare as much normal tissue as possible while destroying the rest of the tumor.

Weekly Status Checks

During radiation therapy, you will have regular checkups with your radiation oncologist and nurse to follow your progress, evaluate whether you are having side effects, recommend treatments for those side effects (such as medication), and address any concerns you may have.

As well as meeting with you, your team of doctors may meet to review the status of your treatment and ensure it is proceeding as planned. During these sessions, the members of the team will discuss your progress with you, as well as any concerns you may have.

Weekly Beam Films

During your course of treatment, images called port films, beam films, or portal verification, will regularly be verified that radiation beams during treatment are in the correct positions. This is an important quality assurance check, but not part of evaluating the tumor itself.

AFTER

Follow-Up

After treatment is completed, you radiation oncologist will meet with you to make sure your recovery is progressing on target. During your follow-up appointments, your radiation oncologist may also order additional diagnostic tests. Reports taken during your follow-ups may also be sent to the other doctors helping treat your cancer.

As your recovery progresses, the frequency of visiting us at Phoenix CyberKnife Center will decrease; however, your radiation oncology team will always be available should questions arise or you need to speak to someone about your treatment.