Your First Appointment (Consultation)
What to bring to your first appointment:
Photo Identification & Insurance Cards
List of current medications or current medication bottles
Your first appointment is called the Consultation visit.
At this appointment, you will check in at our front desk and meet Christy, our Administrative Assistant.
She will have forms for you to fill out, that will allow us to obtain your demographic information, get consent for medical records and HIPPA forms. She will also take copies of your insurance cards and photo ID.
Once she has collected all of the information needed, one of our radiation therapy staff will obtain your weight and height and take you to an exam room.
You will meet the Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Joan Keit, and talk with her about your treatment options and how radiation therapy can be used treat your cancer, this appointment will last approximately 1 hour. She will review all your medical records and any recent X-rays or scans, such as a CT scan (CAT scan) or MRI, and examine you. She will also discuss possible side effects of radiation therapy, and how they can be managed. If Dr. Keit and you decide radiation therapy is the right choice, we will make some additional appointments. These will appointments will get you ready for radiation therapy treatments.
Simulation or CT Planning
Your next visit is called a simulation or treatment planning CT, this helps us plan the best way to administer radiation to the areas where there is disease or a tumor. This careful planning is necessary and ensures that you get the full benefit of your radiation treatments with minimal exposure to healthy surrounding tissue. During the planning session one of our Radiation therapists will ask you to lay on a table and ask you to stay as still as possible. The radiation therapist will then move your body into the best position for your specific radiation treatment. This is the position that you will have to be in everyday for treatment, we try and achieve a position that best suites your radiation treatment while remaining as comfortable as possible for you. Depending on what area we are treating we may need to create a mold or mask to use during treatment that will help you lie in the correct position for each treatment. At this visit, your radiation therapist will be drawing some temporary marks on your skin, these marks do not always represent where the radiation is being delivered, they are used to ensure that you are in the same position everyday for treatment. These marks are replaced with a few small, permanent tattoo marks that are the size of a small freckle. Once in the position that is needed for treatment a CT scan will be performed this will be used for your radiation therapy treatment plan, to ensure that we are treating the area needed while minimizing dose to the surrounding normal tissue.
Finally, we will ask you to sign a consent form saying that you are giving us permission to treat your specific treatment area, that Dr. Keit has explained the benefits / risks and side effects of radiation treatment and that you understand them. At the end of this visit, you will make an appointment to start your radiation treatments.
Daily Radiation Therapy Treatments
Most people have radiation therapy every day, five days a week, Monday thru Friday. You will not have treatments on Saturdays, Sundays and some holidays. Depending on your radiation plan, treatments will take 10 to 30 minutes each day. Dr. Keit can tell you about how many weeks you will need treatment.
Radiation therapy does not hurt. You need to stay very still during treatment. The radiation therapist cannot be with you while the machine is on, but they will be able to see and hear you with cameras and an intercom. You may leave the treatment room when your treatment is finished each day and return to your normal schedule. The Radiation Therapists will help you schedule your daily appointments, we try and give you the same time everyday for treatment.
It is best not to interrupt your treatment schedule once you start radiation therapy. Sometimes, your health or the need to replace a part in the radiation machine may cause you to miss a day of treatment. If this happens, the missed day is added to the end of your radiation therapy schedule. Because this may happen, please do not make travel plans for a week or two after your treatment is scheduled to be finished.
Once a week, you will see your radiation oncologist to talk about your treatments and general health. These appointments are called on-treatment visits. At your last on-treatment visit, your radiation oncology doctor will talk with you about the plan for after treatment. Your doctor will tell you if you need any additional blood tests or X-rays, and when you should have them. The effects of radiation therapy continue after you finish your treatments. You may need X-rays or tests later to see how well the radiation therapy worked. On your last day you will schedule a follow-up to see your radiation oncologist this is usually about a month after your radiation therapy ends so the doctor can see how you are feeling after treatment.
Machine & Treatment Quality Assurance
Safety is a top priority for the staff at Columbus Cancer Care pertaining to all parts of radiation therapy. This includes testing of both the machine and treatment plan to prevent errors and to give high confidence that patients will receive the prescribed treatment correctly. There are a various behind the scenes tests that goes on to ensure that the machine is working at optimal level each day before any patient can be treated. There is also testing that is done on each patient’s plan before that patient can be treated, this testing is done by our physicists. The physicists also do extensive monthly checks on the machine.