What to Expect
Your First Visit – The Consultation
Once you are referred to MRO by your physician, your first step is to make an appointment for a consultation. The consultation generally lasts one to two hours. This gives the radiation oncologist time to talk about your medical history, examine you, determine if radiation therapy is right for you, and describe your specific treatment process.
On your first visit to the radiation therapy center, you will be greeted at the front desk, and our team will check you in. The medical secretary will copy your insurance card and have you fill out some paperwork.
You will first meet with a nurse in an examination room. Your nurse will become a familiar face during treatment. On your first day and at least once per week thereafter, your nurse will meet with you to explain the radiation therapy process, answer questions, and provide information on skin care, dietary needs, and managing side effects. This is a good time to ask any questions you might have about radiation therapy.
You will then meet with your physician to discuss possible treatment options, along with the risks and benefits of radiation therapy. You will also meet with him or her at least once per week during the treatment process to monitor your progress and care.
Once it has been decided that you will receive radiation treatment, you will be scheduled for a simulation. (You may be scheduled for simulation to take place on the same day as the consultation.) During this process, you will be positioned as you would be for radiation treatment, and precise measurements will be taken. You will then be scanned by a special x-ray or CT machine. These scans allow us to pinpoint the exact location of the treatment area on your body. An immobilization device, such as a face mask or pillow that conforms to your body shape, may be created at this time to ensure you are in the same position daily for your treatment. Small tattoos and ink markings may also be applied on your skin. These markings assist the radiation therapist in targeting the appropriate area at each treatment session. The simulation process generally lasts 30 to 60 minutes. There are generally no food or drink restrictions prior to simulation.
The information obtained from the simulation and scans will be used by the physician, physicists, and dosimetrists to plan your customized radiation treatment. Once the treatment plan is optimized and completed, you may return to the treatment center to have the treatment plan verified, which is done on the actual treatment machine.
Following the simulation appointment, you will be scheduled for radiation treatments. Therapy is generally given daily Monday through Friday and usually lasts between one and eight weeks. The number of treatments varies by person, and will be determined as part of your treatment planning. Each individual treatment takes between five and thirty minutes.