What to Expect
Here’s an overview of what you can expect when you begin treatment at Compass Cancer Center.
- The receptionist will welcome you, verify that your personal and insurance information is correct, and introduce you to the radiation oncology nurse.
- The nurse will take you to the examination room, take and record your vital signs, and record your current medications and any allergies. The nurse will also review with you the American Cancer Society’s radiation therapy education packet. The nurse will then introduce you to the radiation oncologist.
- Prior to your appointment, the radiation oncologist will have reviewed all your films and reports, and will discuss with you the course of therapy and options. The radiation oncologist will determine whether further diagnostic testing is needed, as well as whether additional support services—such as dietician, medical oncologist, psychologist or other referrals—are recommended.
- If additional testing is required, the radiation oncologist will explain to you what is needed and why, and will order the testing. You will be scheduled to return after the testing is complete.
- If no additional tests are needed, your consent for treatment will be signed and witnessed and you may begin preparation for treatment.
Preparation for treatment
- The procedure will be explained to you, and the radiation therapists and radiation oncologist will perform a simulation. The radiation oncologist will use this simulation, in conjunction with your treatment-planning CT or PET/CT, to determine critical measurements: the size of the treatment field, port location, and whether there is a need for field shaping/treatment devices such as molds, masks, etc.
- Following the simulation, you will leave the center, and your team will begin developing a customized treatment plan. Developing your treatment plan may take from three days to two weeks, depending on your unique requirements. A physics consultation may be required to determine beam angles and setups, and the dosimetrist/physicist will develop an isodose plan to demonstrate the dose to the tumor and adjacent areas. Results are discussed with the radiation oncologist and a treatment plan is created.
- When you come to Compass Cancer Center for your first treatment, you will be introduced to the radiation therapists, who will explain the treatment procedure. The therapists and radiation oncologist will answer any questions you may have. The treatment is then performed.
- Portal verification images will be taken as needed. Before the second treatment, the radiation oncologist will compare the ports to the plan; if needed, adjustments will be made. Images will be taken on a weekly basis unless otherwise indicated.
Interruption of treatment
If you miss a scheduled treatment, the doctor and nurse will be notified and the missed appointment will be noted in your chart. If the interruption is for a medical reason, you will see the doctor before resuming treatment.
You will have a standing appointment with the radiation oncologist once a week, or more frequently if your condition warrants. The doctor will assess your reaction to treatment, as well as your weight, eating habits, and general physical and mental well-being. Progress notes are dictated for your chart after each session. In addition to your standing appointments, you and/or your family can meet with the radiation oncologist upon request.
Additional simulations may be done as needed. These may be based on physics calculations, to protect the spinal cord and other vulnerable areas within the initial treatment field, or based on tumor regression, etc.
Follow-ups are scheduled at the completion of therapy. Your follow-up may include, but is not limited to:
- Vitals taken
- Post-treatment history
- Examination by the radiation oncologist
- Lab work
Additional follow-ups or referrals to other agencies will be scheduled as needed.