Your initial visit: consultation for radiation therapy
Your first visit to the Radiation Therapy Center is called a consultation. At the consultation you will meet with the radiation oncologist to discuss your radiation treatment options. You are welcome to bring along any family/friends with you to this visit. Please remember to also bring a current medication list.
When you arrive, please check in at our reception desk. Please have your insurance card with you. A radiation oncology nurse will meet with you to discuss your health history and offer information on cancer and the role of radiation therapy. The radiation oncologist will review your medical history, radiology studies (CT, MRI scans etc.), laboratory results and, if you have undergone surgery or a biopsy, pathology reports. A physical examination will also be performed.
The radiation oncologist will perform an examination, discuss the benefits and potential risks of radiation therapy, review your treatment options with you and answer your questions. If more tests are need to chose the right treatment course, those tests will be ordered and scheduled for you.
Understanding radiation therapy: What is external beam radiation therapy? When is it used?
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is delivered by a machine called a linear accelerator. The radiation destroys cancerous tumors and cells by creating a reaction in the cells and this reaction damages the genetic material that controls cell growth. Normally, cells can repair themselves and continue growing. But since cancer cells can't repair themselves as easily, they die.
Our doctors (radiation oncologists) are extremely careful to limit damage to healthy tissue by precisely targeting radiation beams directly at the cancerous area and by dividing treatments into several small sessions, called fractions. A typical treatment course is delivered by receiving radiation therapy for five days in a row, with a rest over the weekend. Receiving small frequent doses with brief rests limits damage to healthy cells, while effectively destroying cancer cells.
Radiation therapy may be used for a curative treatment or for a palliative treatment (where cure is not possible and the aim is for local disease control or symptomatic relief). Radiation therapy can be used in conjuction with other cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or hormone therapy.