West Cancer Center’s Radiation Oncology Department is comprised of highly trained Radiation Oncologists, Radiation Therapists, and Medical Physicists, along with a support team to manage and minimize treatment side effects such as skin changes, nutrition, and fatigue. Our team’s goal is to use advanced therapies to deliver effective and safe radiation therapy to our cancer patients.
What to Expect
During your consultation, your radiation oncologist will perform a physical exam and review your medical history along with any lab or radiology reports. You and your doctor will then review your various options, together deciding on a treatment plan that is right for you. Once you have met with our radiation oncology team, it is likely you will need another CT scan, called a Simulation, in order to best customize your treatment.
What is Simulation?
Simulation is a dress rehearsal for your actual radiation therapy sessions. The simulator is a machine that helps your physicists plan to direct the radiation beam so that damage to normal healthy tissue is kept to a minimum. This will be your longest day here, as you will be at the facility about 1.5 hours
What Happens During Treatment?
Most patients receive their treatments through a method called “external beam radiation.” One type of machine that delivers the radiation is called a linear accelerator. As you lie down, a radiation therapist will move the head of the machine where it needs to be for proper delivery of the radiation. Although you will be alone in the treatment room while the machine is on, the radiation therapist can watch you through a camera to make sure you are safe and comfortable. There is a microphone in the room so that you can talk to the therapist.
How often do I have to come in for treatment?
Depending on the location and stage of your tumor, your radiation oncologist may schedule anywhere from one to eight weeks of radiation therapy. Your body cannot handle large amounts of radiation all at once, so you will receive small doses on a daily basis. Most often, your therapy will be scheduled on an outpatient basis, Monday through Friday. It is very important that you do not miss or skip any of your treatments unless ordered by your doctor.
Will I feel anything when I receive my radiation treatments?
You will not feel or see anything when you receive your radiation – it is a quick and painless process. The machine may slowly move around you during treatment, and you may hear a slight buzzing sound when the machine is turned on. The whole process, from entering the treatment room until you have finished your treatment usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes.
What side effects can I expect?
Your body is trying to repair itself as the radiation is trying to destroy the tumor, so you will most likely experience some fatigue during your therapy. This is normal. Depending on the location of your treatment, you may notice some tanning or sunburn on your skin, or soreness of the tissues. Discuss these side effects with your doctor or nurse. Also, you may read more about how to alleviate potential side effects here.
Matthew Ballo, MD, FACR
Michael Farmer, MD
Holger Gieschen, MD
Micah Monaghan, MD
Noam VanderWalde, MD, MS
Yuefang Wang, MD, PhD
For inquiries or to refer a patient, please call 901.624.2600.
To refer a patient online, please click here.
To refer a patient via fax, please this form form to 901.922.6767.