Guthrie board-certified radiation oncologists aggressively use targeted radiation with the goal of reducing or eliminating cancer cells. Because it is highly localized, it will produce limited side effects and is one of the most precise treatment options available.
Your radiation oncologist will provide you with options of how best to treat your cancer. They will guide you in selecting which option is best for you. Once you have selected the appropriate type of treatment, you can be confident that you will be treated by a board-certified radiation oncologist and a dedicated team of physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapists and nurses who will be with you every step of the way.
Guthrie’s radiation oncologists have expertise in using advanced image guidance techniques (IGRT). They use these combined with their experience in specialized treatments such as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) or intensity modulated radiation (IMRT) to precisely and efficiently irradiate cancer while protecting healthy tissue, resulting in better tumor control and better quality of life.
What to Expect
Your radiation oncology team will discuss treatment options, including the risks, benefits and outcomes to you and answer any questions you may have. Expect to spend approximately one and a half hours at your first appointment.
During your first appointment, your radiation oncologist will:
- Review your medical record, including x-rays and test results from any tests or biopsies.
- Discuss your health history.
- Explain the treatment options he/she would recommend for your type of cancer as well as the potential outcomes.
If you agree with the treatment plan your radiation oncologist recommends, you may be asked to start the process right away.
Preparing for Your First Appointment
Your Guthrie physician will need to review any tests, procedures, or treatments that you may have had. If you are already a Guthrie patient, your physician has access to your electronic medical record. If you have had treatment elsewhere, you will need to bring the following to your first appointment. If you wish, our team can assist you in gathering this information to prepare for the first appointment.
This is a description written by your physician detailing your medical problems and the treatment you have received. A medical summary will be needed from your primary physician and any specialist you have seen.
Please be sure to bring a list of all medications you take, including those prescribed by physicians and those you buy over the counter. This should include any vitamins or herbal products you take. The medication list should indicate the following information:
- the name of each medicine.
- the dose you take.
- how often you take it.
Diagnostic tests include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, bone scans, stress tests, echocardiograms and electrocardiograms. The images may be on disc or on film.
To obtain radiology tests:
- Contact the hospital or radiology center where the images were taken.
- Request for the images and a written report on disc. If the images are not available on disc, then ask for the actual films.
Pathology Slides from Any Biopsies or Surgical Procedures
If you had a biopsy or surgery at another facility, please contact that office to request slides and a copy of the written report.
We will need the name of your health insurance company, along with other information that appears on your health insurance card. In addition, please bring a photo ID. If you are covered by more than one insurer, please bring both cards.
Other Ways to Prepare for Your Appointment Include:
- Arrange for a friend or family member to come with you. You will receive a lot of information and it is helpful to have someone else there to take notes.
- Write down any questions you may think of before your first visit. Bring these with you. All questions are welcomed.
What is the difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy?
Chemotherapy involves medications given by injections or pills for cancer. This type of treatment is circulated throughout the entire body and is generally prescribed by a medical oncologist. Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is produced by a linear accelerator or another radiation source, and is prescribed by a radiation oncologist. The radiotherapy beams are focused on a very specific area of the body, and thus the effects are highly localized.
How long does a course of radiation therapy treatments usually last?
Most radiation therapy treatments are daily, five days per week, for a specified period of one to eight weeks, depending on the disease and the course that your physician prescribes.
Will my insurance cover radiation therapy services?
We accept most forms of insurance, including Medicare, with appropriate authorization. You may be responsible for a portion of the balance, depending on your coverage. Guthrie’s patient financial advocate can assist you and answer any questions you may have.
Will I feel anything after my radiation treatment?
Many patients continue with most of their normal activities during treatment — working, golfing, gardening, etc. Depending on the area being treated, however, there may be side effects including fatigue, nausea, “sun-burned” skin, or diarrhea. Your physician can discuss the likely side effects and prescribe medication for some conditions. Making certain that you are taking care of your body’s needs is very important. Maintaining your weight and getting adequate fluids and rest are important goals to consider.
Will I be able to drive after my radiation therapy treatment?
Almost all patients are able to drive while receiving radiotherapy treatment. However, with some types of cancer, driving may NOT be recommended due to fatigue or strong pain medication. Your physician will be able to address your specific case.
Should I take vitamins and/or medications while receiving treatment?
Good nutrition is important during your radiation treatments, and taking a multivitamin at this time is acceptable. Your physician will, however, need to be aware of all medication and/or herbal products that you are currently taking, including large doses of any one vitamin. In some cases, mega-vitamins may be harmful.
Will I feel any pain from the radiation treatment?
There is usually no pain associated with the radiation treatments. It is very much like having an X-ray taken. Sometimes a sunburn effect may cause the area to be tender. Keep your physician informed of any discomfort that you experience.
Is it a problem if I miss a treatment?
If you miss an appointment during your prescribed treatment, it will extend your treatment course by a day. We strongly recommend that you attempt to make all appointments as prescribed by your radiation oncologist. Keep in mind that the treatments are generally given Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Treatments are provided