What will happen before my radiation therapy for cancer?

When you are being considered for radiation therapy, the first step in the process is a consultation with a physician. During this meeting, which typically takes place within a week of the initial call, a care plan is developed for you. This may include radiation therapy alone, radiation therapy in conjunction with other techniques or another option altogether.

If radiation therapy is chosen and approved, a series of planning sessions will be held, during which doctors and physicists will develop an individualized treatment plan for you.

The CT simulation appointment follows your initial consultation with a physician regarding radiation therapy. During the simulation appointment, the radiation oncologist will obtain a 3-D picture of your tumor using CT, MRI or PET scanning. These data and images are used to reconstruct the tumor and the adjacent normal structures. This allows for accurate and precise dose targeting to the tumor and projection of normal tissues.

Just prior to starting radiation therapy, you will participate in a dry run. During this session, all aspects of your prescribed treatment -- positioning and dosages -- will be checked for accuracy. The dry run usually takes place in the room where you will receive your actual treatment. Typically, if all aspects of the dry run receive physician approval, your first treatment will take place on the same or following day, depending on appointment availability and the type of cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.