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How to Get Ready For Radiation Therapy Treatment

If you have to undergo a radiation therapy, prior planning for immensely helps in the treatment. The whole team of your radiation therapy will meet you in order to mentally and physically prepare you for the treatment session.

The team members will include:

  • A radiation oncologist who’s a cancer treatment specialist and determines the right radiation therapy for your specific tumor or cancer. They’ll adjust your treatment and carefully monitor your progress.
  • A nurse who specializes in radiation oncology. They stay close to the patient and inform them regarding the after effects of the treatment and how they’re supposed to manage their body and posture during the therapy.
  • A dosimetrist and a radiation physicist who make measurements and calculations regarding the delivery channel and dosage of your radiation therapy.
  • A radiation therapist who is responsible for operating the radiation equipment.

The Planning Appointment

The team will plan a proper planning appointment which can take several hours. You must ask every question that comes to your mind during this session. You can also demand for another planning session if you need it.

The planning session will also involve a planning CT scan. This scan will target the cancerous area of the body and reveal the tumor and the structures that surround it. You’re supposed to lie still on the scanner table with your affected body area exposed. Then the radiographers will put markers on your exposed skin. These markers lit up as white dots on the scan and are used to position you properly for the radiotherapy session.

Once you’re in the right position, the radiographers will take the measurements to record this position. This record makes sure that you’ll lie in the exact same position during the radiation therapy. The radiographer may also use certain equipments like a neck rest, chest board, or arm pole to give you the required support.

After being perfectly positioned, you’ll be moved through a scanner. The scanning process takes up to five minutes. It’s not painful at all. You should also know that you may need to undergo a PET, MRI, or different X-ray scan so that your radiation oncologist gets a clear idea about the structure, size, and position of your tumor.

In order to get a clear image of your tumor and body structure, you may need to take some extra measure like:

  • A dye injection to make your kidneys visible.
  • Wires around your lumps or scars.
  • Consumption of huge amount of liquid before the scan to show up the abdomen and bladder.

During the planning of radiotherapy session, the radiographer may also mark extremely small tattoo marks on your exposed skin in order to make sure that the same area is subjected to radiation every day. If you need the radiation therapy on your neck or head, the doctor may put a shell (mould) to keep you still during the treatment.

After the end of your planning sessions, if may take a few days or two to three weeks before the treatment starts. Every detail of your radiation therapy is critically planned and discussed during this time period.