Preparing for Treatment | Radiotherapy

Preparing for Treatment FAQs

What happens during my consultation?

You will undergo a physical examination by your radiation oncologist and a resident. Please bring any exciting medical records to your consultation. The doctor will present treatment options as well as the risks, benefits and outcomes. We encourage bringing a spouse, and /or family member or friend with as they may help with questions or take notes

How long will the consultation take?

Your initial visit could take up to 2 hours. At this time, he or she will present treatment options as well as the risks, benefits and outcomes. If desired, your spouse and/or family member may be present

Can I get a second opinion?

Yes. Getting a second opinion is your decision and prerogative. It is important to us that you are aware of all of your options before deciding on a course of treatment

Will my insurance cover radiation therapy services?

We accept most forms of insurance and require the appropriate authorization. You may be responsible for a portion of the balance, depending on your coverage. In addition, there are billing specialists available to answer any and all questions you may have

How long will I have to come for follow-up visits?

Patients often see their radiation oncologist several times after their treatments has been completed. Your follow-up visits will be determined by the radiation oncologist, in collaboration with your other physicians.

Is there assistance for transportation?

Most patients drive their cars to St Stephens Oncology Center, and parking is provided free of charge during the treatment. We advise patients to have a friend of family member assist them with driving back to their premises.

Radiotherapy FAQs

What is the difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy?

Chemotherapy involves medications given by injections or pills for cancer. This type of treatment is circulated throughout the entire body and is generally prescribed by a medical oncologist. Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is produced by a linear accelerator or another radiation source, and is prescribed by a radiation oncologist. The radiotherapy beams are focused on a very specific area of the body, and thus the effects are highly localized

How long does a course of radiotherapy treatments usually last?

Most radiation therapy treatments are daily, five days per week, for a specified period of one to eight weeks, depending on the disease and the course that your physician prescribes

How long does each treatment take?

Radiation therapists, who are under the direction of your radiation oncologist, will be taking all the time necessary to ensure that you are accurately positioned for your treatment. The actual time when the radiation is “on” is generally only about a minute or two for each treatment field. Most of the time, patients are in and out of the department in less than 60 minutes.

How does the physician know how much radiation to give me?

There is a wide ranges of doses that are recommended for each specific type of cancer. Your case will be thoroughly reviewed by the radiation oncologist, and a customized dose and treatment field will be prescribed based on the cancer diagnosis

Will I feel anything after my treatment?

Many patients continue with most of their normal activities during treatment — working, golfing, gardening, etc. Depending on the area being treated, however, there may be side effects including fatigue, nausea, “sun-burned” skin, or diarrhea. Your physician can discuss the likely side effects and prescribe medication for some conditions.

Will I be able to drive after my radiotherapy treatment?

With some types of cancer, driving may NOT be recommended due to fatigue or strong pain medication. Your physician will be able to address your specific case.

Should I take vitamins and/or medications while receiving treatment?

Nutrition is important part of recovery during your radiation treatments, and the use of multivitamins at this time is acceptable. Your physician will, however, need to be aware of all medication and/or herbal products that you are currently taking, including large doses of any one vitamin. In some cases, mega-vitamins may be harmful.

Will I feel any pain from the radiation treatment?

There is usually no pain associated with the radiation treatments. It is very much like having an X-ray taken. However the area of treatment might suffer a sunburn effect

Is it a problem if I miss a treatment?

Missing an appointment will extend your treatment course by a day. We strongly recommend that you attempt to make all appointments prescribed by your radiation oncologist. Keep in mind that the treatments are generally given Monday through Friday

While receiving radiation therapy treatment, how often will I see my radiation oncologist?

In general, you will be scheduled to see your doctor and your nurse once a week during your treatments. Sometimes, you will see a physician other than your regular doctor. You will also be monitored daily by the radiation therapists who actually delivers the radiation treatment