Your simulation/treatment planning appointment takes about one hour. To be most effective, radiation therapy must be aimed precisely at the same target each time treatment is given. To accomplish this, we will take measurements and mark your skin to help safely direct the beams of radiation. Here’s how it’s done.
- Images are taken with a CT scanner to determine the precise area to be treated. This is not a treatment.
- During the CT simulation, the radiation therapist(s) under the direction of the radiation oncologist, will position you on the CT scanner in the exact position you will be in during actual treatment.
- Positioning is important to your treatment so we may have a custom mold, mask, or headrest made.
- These immobilization devices help you remain in the same position during the entire treatment.
- Your physician may request that you receive IV contrast or barium to drink. Contrast is used to highlight organs so that they can be seen on the CT images.
- When imaging is complete, the therapist will either place a temporary mark on your skin and cover it with protective tape or give you small permanent tattoos (very small black dots).
- These marks are placed on your customized immobilization device, too. The marks will be used to position you each day before your radiation treatments.
- We’ll design your treatment plan and in 1-3 weeks you’ll begin your course of treatment.
During the days following your treatment planning, images of you, obtained from the CT scanner, are transferred to a sophisticated treatment planning computer system where a virtual three-dimensional image is created and your treatment plan is developed.
The planning team (consisting of a radiation oncologist, dosimetrists, that calculate the dose you’ll receive, and medical physicists that safely calibrate the delivery of your treatment) custom designs the best treatment plan for your situation.
This process can take a couple of days or up to three weeks for a more complex plan. After reviewing all of your information and your treatment plan, your radiation oncologist will write a prescription that outlines where and how much radiation you will receive. The final step in the simulation and planning process is the verification simulation. This is done on the treatment machine.
2nd Appointment Duration: 1 hour