Consultation: your first visit

Your first visit to our department will be for your consultation. This appointment may take up to 2 hours, and will be one of your longer visits. Patients do not receive radiation during the consultation visit.

During your consultation, your medical records, X-rays, and laboratory tests will be reviewed by the radiation oncologist and resident and you will receive a complete physical exam to assess your current condition. 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. If another form of treatment is more appropriate for your care, this will be discussed with you and your referring physician.

Questions to ask your radiation oncologist:

  • 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?
    Related FAQ: Can a family member or friend accompany me during my visit?
  • What can I do to best take care of myself during treatment?
  • Will other treatments be given in addition to radiation therapy?

Simulation and treatment planning

You will be scheduled to return to the department 2-3 days following your consultation for your simulation appointment, which will allow our staff to create your treatment plan. This process usually takes 7-10 business days.

You will receive your first treatment date from your simulation therapist.

Treatment visits

Most patients will visit the department every weekday for 6-7 weeks while they undergo treatment. Appointments take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.. Please note that our offices are closed and no treatments are performed on weekends or holidays.

After your first treatment date, you will receive an updated schedule for the next week’s treatments every Thursday. Although actual treatment time is usually less than 20 minutes, plan to be here at least an hour for each visit.

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 called “port films” will be taken during your treatment. These are part of the quality assurance of your therapy and tell your physician about the accuracy of your daily treatments. They do not give information about the response of your cancer to the radiation. 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.

You will be seen at least once a week by the radiation oncologist to monitor your care and answer any questions that you may have. If you want to see the physician at any other time, just ask.

Follow-up visits

After you complete your radiation therapy, you will be scheduled to return to the department at regular intervals for follow-up visits with your physician.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. Follow-up visit intervals are scheduled based on each patient’s individual response to their treatment.

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