February 11, 2013 8:00 am

Dr. Kris Gast~ Ask the Pros

Posted in: Ask the Pros

Radiation Oncologist at Fort Smith Radiation OncologyQ: I have been diagnosed with cancer and have been told I will need radiation therapy.  What can I expect?

A: When you are referred for radiation therapy, you will meet your radiation oncologist and her nurse.  After they review your records, reports, and x-rays, your doctor will perform an exam. Your radiation oncologist should offer to review your x-rays and scans with you.  During this visit the doctor must decide whether or not you require radiation treatment and discuss with you all the risks, side-effects, and benefits of the treatment.  You, the patient, will then decide to proceed or not with radiation treatment.

Once treatment is decided, the next step is simulation.  Simulation is typically a CT scan used to obtain data for designing your radiation plan. All patients have a unique radiation plan that has been customized just for them, their bodies, and their cancers.  Your plan will be unique to you.  After completion of the simulation, you will leave with positioning marks on your skin (made with a sharpie marker or a paint pen) and an appointment to return for treatment.  When you arrive at your next visit, your plan will have been completed. Radiation therapists will be ready to deliver your treatment.  Usually lasting 5-10 minutes administered once a day for 2-7 weeks, radiation therapy is painless: you will not feel anything.

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