Patient Journey

We are here to support you through this part of your journey. At any time during your visit, if you feel unsure about anything, please let us know. The better we understand how you’re feeling, the more we can help make the process as comfortable and simple as possible.

Listed below is an explanation of the steps involved with your radiation therapy

Initial Consultation

Your initial visit to the Kathleen Kilgour Centre will involve a thorough consultation with a Radiation Oncologist where you will discuss your treatment options.   They will review your medical information and if necessary may perform a physical examination to ensure the best management for you. The Radiation Oncologist will also discuss the benefits and potential risks of radiation therapy and answer all of your questions.

If you and your Radiation Oncologist decide to have radiation therapy, you will be scheduled for a planning session, known as a CT simulation.  A scheduler will contact you in order to arrange a date and time for this appointment.

This initial visit will be one of your longer visits to the clinic and you should allow for approximately 1-2 hours in the Kathleen Kilgour Centre.   The consultation usually takes place on Level 3 at Kathleen Kilgour Centre.

CT Simulation

Your next visit to the Kathleen Kilgour Centre will be to the CT suite on Level One.

The purpose of the CT simulation is to determine the position you will be treated and to locate the exact area to be treated in relation to the surrounding normal tissues.  Your simulation is performed on a machine called a CT scanner, and the images taken are used for your individualised radiation treatment planning.

When you enter the CT room, the staff will ask you to take off any clothes and jewellery from the area to be scanned.  You will then be asked to lie down on the couch top which slides through the machine.  Please inform the staff members if you have any mobility limitations.

Depending on the treatment area and technique required, an immobilisation device can be made to reduce your movements. These devices will take approximately 15 minutes to make, during which time you will not experience any discomfort.

Once you are properly positioned you will undergo the CT scan which usually takes just five minutes and is painless.  Small permanent tattoo dots may be given to assist in the daily set-up of treatment.

The whole CT simulation process lasts approximately one hour.

Treatment Planning

The next step in the radiation therapy process is Treatment Planning. 

Using the information obtained during CT, a ‘target volume’ is determined by your Radiation Oncologist on a computer planning system. Clinical staff at the Kathleen Kilgour Centre calculate the best method of giving a dose of radiation to the target volume, whilst at the same time avoiding as much normal tissue as possible. 

Computer calculations, data input, construction of accessories, and planning checks must be completed before treatment can begin. This is a very important and complicated phase of your treatment. You will be notified by phone and/or mail of your appointment start date and time.

Treatment

Radiation Therapy treatment is delivered by a Radiation Therapist using a machine called a linear accelerator.  Treatment is usually given once a day, five times per week and takes around 20 minutes. A course of radiation therapy generally lasts between one to eight weeks.

You will be required to lie in the same position as during the CT process, and we ask that you try to keep as still as possible during the procedure.

The Therapists must leave the room during the treatment; however, they monitor you on a camera from outside the room. There is also an intercom system, so if you need assistance, call out or raise your hand. 

The direction of the beam is set by moving the machine and the couch, on which you are lying, to the correct position. You will not see or feel anything while the radiation is being delivered but you will hear some buzzing noises from the machine.

While undergoing a course of radiation therapy, most patients are able to maintain their usual lifestyle at home or at work. However, it is normal for most patients to feel tired so it’s best to plan your days to allow for rest when you need it. By drinking enough water, maintaining a well-balanced diet and continuing with your usual level of physical activity you will be better able to maintain your energy levels.

You may find that your skin is particularly affected by treatment.  If necessary you will be given skincare instructions. More information on side effect management will be given to you on your first day of treatment.

Female patients - If is important that you do not become pregnant at any  stage during your treatment  as radiation can harm the unborn baby.

Follow Up

You will meet with your treating Radiation Oncologist once a week during treatment to discuss any concerns and to ensure you are handling the treatment well. If you are experiencing any side effects, medications may be prescribed to help reduce them and management strategies will be discussed.

If you are experiencing a problem at any stage during your treatment please tell your Radiation Therapist who will arrange appropriate care and support for you.

On the last day of your treatment you will be given an appointment for a follow up visit.

Follow-up visits are important for the Radiation Oncologist to monitor your progress as well as address any side effects you may be experiencing. After your initial follow-up, visits are generally scheduled at 6 month intervals, depending on your case and how you are doing. All the information about your treatment will be sent to your GP and other doctors as necessary.

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