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What to Expect At Your Radiation Oncology Visit

Initial Visit

The radiation oncologist will perform a physical exam and discuss your treatment options and plan. The nurse will provide you with educational materials specific to your type of radiation therapy.

Once You Decide to Pursue Radiation Therapy

Our doctors will explain the therapy and its common side effects with you and ask that you sign a consent form for the treatment. The next step involves obtaining images using a computed tomography (CT) scan that will be taken in the radiation oncology department. These images help the radiation oncologist and physicists plan the radiation therapy. During the CT, the radiation therapist will "mark" the treatment fields on your body, The marks are placed on clear adhesive tape and then placed on the body. It is important that the marks remain on your body throughout treatment as they serve as guidelines for the delivery of radiation to your body.

It usually takes three to five days for your radiation therapy to be planned by the doctor and physicists. Once the plan is finalized, your radiation therapy will be started. The doctor will call you with an appointment time. You will come to either the radiation oncology clinic on the main campus, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Franklin, or Gateway-Vanderbilt Cancer Treatment Center. Once you have checked in with the receptionist, the radiation therapist will come to get you and take you to the treatment room, where you will be asked to change into a gown. The treatment will take about 10 minutes, and you will see the radiation oncologist every five days that you are on treatment.

During this time, it is important to discuss how you are feeling as well as any side effects that may be taking place. The doctor will also perform a physical assessment. The nurse will measure your weight, vital signs and assist you with any information or supplies that you need during treatment. If you need to see the doctor at any time during therapy, please let the therapist know, and he or she will arrange a meeting.

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