The Radiation Therapist will give you a first day chat prior to your treatment. In this meeting you will discuss the specific side effects expected from your treatment and the treatment procedure on Day 1.
Your Specific Side Effects
You will be given an Irish Cancer Society’s booklet and a Hermitage Medical Clinic leaflet which contains more condensed information on your side effects.
Day 1 Procedure
Your first appointment will be longer than the usual 15 minutes. It may take from 20 to 45 minutes as there are more checks which need to be done and the Radiation Therapists will be familiarizing themselves with your particular set up. Your treatment will become marginally quicker during your first week and from then on last for 15 minutes approximately.
The Radiation Therapist will escort you from the radiotherapy waiting area to the changing rooms. You will be advised on what to take off/ leave on. You may leave your belongings in the changing rooms. There are gowns provided for you to change into. The treatment room is located directly across from the changing rooms. Once you have changed the Radiation Therapists will escort you into the treatment room.
The treatment couch will be laid out exactly as the CT couch. The Radiation Therapists will raise the couch, dim the lights, and highlight your permanent skin marks (tattoos). They have to reproduce the position you were in during your CT scan. It is important that you relax on the bed and try not to tense your muscles when you are positioned as they are moving you by millimeters. The Radiation Therapists will be talking to each other to ensure you are in the exact treatment position. The treatment machine is called a Linear Accelerator (LINAC). The LINAC will make a mechanical whirring sound when it moves around you. The Radiation Therapists are in complete control of the LINAC and it will not touch you at any point.
There are a number of checks that need to be done before the radiation can be administered. The Radiation Therapists perform these checks using beam distances, light shapes and sizes, x-ray images and dose counters (diodes). The Radiation Therapists must leave the room to turn on the radiation but they can see and hear you on CCTV cameras and intercoms respectively. If you are having difficulty signal to the Radiation Therapists and they can be with you within seconds. Verification images are taken prior to treatment. The treatment will not be done unless the Radiation Therapists are satisfied with these images. They will alter your position or the position of the couch in order to correct for discrepancies. When the radiation is turned on you will hear a series of beeps and buzzes but you will not feel anything. The Radiation Therapists will come in and out of the treatment room during your treatment to alter the position of the dose counters (diodes) which are placed on your skin. The diodes record the delivered dose to each field and they are examined after treatment.
It is very important that you maintain the position the Radiation Therapists have left you in and that you do not move until you are advised otherwise. The Radiation Therapists will lower the couch after your treatment and tell you when it is safe for you to disembark from the treatment couch.
When you have changed back into your own clothes remember to collect your appointments from the radiotherapy receptionist.