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Your Treatment: About Your Visit

Consultation: Your First Visit 

When a radiation oncologist at the Radiation Oncology Department receives a request from a doctor or from a patient for a consultation, we will schedule a visit for you.  On your first visit, please bring the following information with you:

  • List of current medications
  • X-rays, CT, MRI or PET scan films from your physician or hospital other than Barnes- Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center
  • Copy of your current medical records
  • Laboratory test reports
  • Pathology report and biopsy slides if appropriate
  • Prior radiation therapy treatment and planning records, simulation films and treatment films

If your records are complete, it will save you time and possibly an extra visit. Your first visit will be one of your longer visits.  You will receive a complete physical exam to assess your current condition after your medical records, X-rays and laboratory tests have been reviewed by the radiation oncologist and resident.  Although you may have been examined by your doctors before your visit with the radiation oncologist, the examination by the radiation oncologist is a critical part of the consultation.  He or she may discover abnormalities not noticed before by other doctors.  Your radiation oncologist may focus on other parts of the exam that specifically addresses the need for radiation therapy.

Additional tests may be necessary and some may be repeated to ensure that you receive the best treatment. Finally, in consultation with your other physicians, a decision will be made about whether radiation therapy is the best form of treatment for you.

To review the medical history form you will need to complete on your first visit, select the following file: Review of Systems

If you are to be treated here, you will be scheduled for simulation and treatment planning.   If another form of treatment is more appropriate for you, this will be discussed with you and your referring physician.

The staff will ask if you have transportation or lodging difficulties.  Our social worker will be able to assist you in these areas.

Questions to Ask During Your Consultation:

  • Why is radiation therapy being recommended?
  • How long does each treatment take?
  • How long will the whole course of radiation treatments take?
  • How soon should treatment start?
  • Will there be any limitations during or after radiation treatment?
  • Where will treatments take place?
  • Should a friend or relative accompany me to treatment or can I come alone?
  • What can I do to best take care of myself during treatment?
  • Will other treatments be given in addition to radiation therapy?

Treatment Visits

You will soon become familiar with the treatment procedures. For regular treatment visits, you should first register at the reception desk and then sit in the waiting area. You will be notified when the therapist is ready for you. Although actual treatment time is usually less than 20 minutes, plan to be here at least an hour for each visit. If you are not called within 30 minutes of your scheduled appointment, please contact the receptionist.  While you are in the treatment room the staff can see you on closed-circuit television, hear you and talk with you.

Once a week you will be weighed and blood tests and additional X-rays may be done as necessary.  On a weekly basis, special X-rays are taken during your treatment.  These X-rays, called “port films” are part of the quality assurance of your therapy.  They do not give information about the response of your cancer to the radiation.  They tell the physician the accuracy of your daily treatments.  You will be seen at least once a week by the radiation oncologist to monitor your care and answer questions. If you want to see the physician at any other time, just ask.  After you get to know the surroundings and us, the procedures will seem less confusing. During the course of therapy, your physician may schedule your treatment on a different machine to help you receive the most benefit from your treatment.

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Making Appointments

You may call the specialist office directly to make an appointment or phone the call centers.  For adults the number is 314-TOP-DOCS and for children, 314-454-KIDS. 

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Keeping Appointments

The staff will do everything possible to arrange treatment around your schedule so that you can get to school, work or wherever you need to be. They will work with you to set up a time that is mutually convenient. Check with your therapist if you wish to change your schedule.  Sometimes changing the treatment time will not be possible due to the availability of time or the amount of time needed to accurately deliver your treatment.  Please understand that we will try to accommodate your needs whenever possible.  Plan to arrive on time. If you are late, the next scheduled patient also is delayed.

Providing high-quality, personalized care to many people keeps the Radiation Oncology Department staff busy. Sometimes there are emergencies and unavoidable delays. The therapists must be careful and exact so that all patients get the best care. Sometimes this means extra waiting time. We are grateful for your patience and understanding when this happens. If patients come in after you and are treated before you, it is probably because they are being treated on a different machine.

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Family Members

Many patients like to ask a family member or friend to accompany them. The waiting area is sufficient for one or two family members or friends. In order to protect the privacy of all patients, relatives and friends are not allowed to enter the treatment area.  While you are being examined or when you talk with your physician, it is up to you to choose whether you wish to have a family member present. The physician will respect your choice.

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Follow-Up Visits

It is extremely important for our evaluation of therapy results to know what happens to you after treatment.  We will ask you to sign a form that authorizes your referring physicians or hospitals where you may be treated to provide us with pertinent medical information. Also, we appreciate any information you may give us regarding your health and medical conditions.

Once your treatment is completed, in addition to your referring physician, your radiation oncologist at the Department of Radiation Oncology will see you at regular intervals.  Follow-up visits are necessary to evaluate your overall status and assure that you achieve the highest quality of life. Frequently some laboratory tests or radiographic studies will be done.

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Your radiation oncologists are Washington University physicians, on the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  In addition, our faculty members pursue scholarly interests, including clinical research, basic research and medical education.   Our physicians use radiation therapy equipment and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital technical staff to assist in your treatment.  Because of this, you will receive two separate bills for these services:  one bill from Washington University Physicians for the professional care provided to you by the medical staff, and another bill from Barnes-Jewish Hospital for use of the facilities and technical services.  You will receive a description of hospital services and charges but this is not your bill.  A bill will not be sent to you until your insurance has paid their coverage for services provided. The radiation oncologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine are approved providers for the major HMO, PPO, Medicare, Medicaid MC+ and commercial insurance plans in the St. Louis area.  Please ask us if you are unsure about our participation in a health insurance plan.  We will submit your claim – and any secondary claims – to any insurance company under the benefit coverage you specify.  This is one of the levels of service that we provide. If you do not have medical insurance and/or you are concerned about paying for your procedures, call our patient accounts staff.  We can give you an estimate and work with you in setting up a payment plan. 

Because insurance forms and billings can be complicated and difficult to complete, our Patient Accounts staff are available to help you with problems related to your bill or insurance claim forms.  Please feel free to discuss any aspects of your bill with your Radiation Oncologist or the Patient Accounts staff.  If you have any questions regarding your bill, please contact:

Barnes-Jewish Hospital                       362-0710
Patient Accounts Department Technical Charges

Washington University Physicians        362-9723
Billing Office Professional Charges 

Also, please notify us at 362-7030 of any change in your name, address, telephone number or insurance coverage.

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Before Your Appointment

To streamline the registration process and minimize your personal expenses, it is important to take the following steps before your appointment:

  • Step 1: Find out if your policy or plan requires a referral.  If so, contact your primary care physician to obtain one.  Referrals may be faxed to 314-454-5628 or 314-362-7769.
  • Step 2: Bring your insurance card with you on your first visit.
  • Step 3: Please arrive 15 minutes before your first scheduled appointment time to present your insurance card and referral and complete a form authorizing us to submit a claim to your insurance company.

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