Your radiation oncologist will provide you with options to treat your cancer using radiation therapy. Our board-certified radiation oncologists use targeted radiation to reduce or eliminate cancer cells. Highly localized treatment results in fewer side effects and more precise treatment. Guthrie’s radiation oncologists use advanced image guided techniques in combination with specialized treatment including stereotactic body radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery or intensity modulated radiation to precisely and efficiently irradiate cancer and protect healthy tissue.
What to Expect
At your first appointment, your radiation oncology team will discuss treatment options, any possible risks, benefits and outcomes. We will also answer any questions you have. Initial appointments are typically between one and a half and two hours.
During this appointment your radiation oncologists will:
- Review your medical record, including any X-rays and biopsy results.
- Discuss your health history and family history of cancer.
- Discuss recommended treatment options
Preparing for your first appointment:
At your first appointment, your surgical oncologist will review any previous tests, procedures, or treatments. If you are a Guthrie patient, your physician has access to your electronic medical record. If you received treatment elsewhere, you will need to bring the following to your first appointment. 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 conditions and any treatment you received. A medical summary will be needed from your primary care provider and any specialists seen.
Please bring a list of all medications you currently take, including:
- Prescribed medications from a physician.
- Over-the-counter medications.
- Herbal products.
Your 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. Please provide images on disc or on film.
To obtain your diagnostic 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.
Insurance Card and Photo ID
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.
- Bring questions you may have. We welcome all questions.
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