What to Expect

When radiation therapy might be of help, a family doctor, surgeon or medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with medicines) will refer patients to a radiation oncologist.

The doctor will first review your medical records, x-rays and perform a physical exam.

The doctors will then talk to you about his/her findings and decide how you should be treated. If radiation will help you, the staff will schedule the needed studies to develop a treatment plan. This is sometimes referred to as simulation.

During simulation, the therapist takes x-rays of the part of your body to be treated to help decide how the radiation will be given. Using the x-ray as a guide to the treatment site, the therapist uses a marker to outline the treatment area on your skin. This area is often called a “treatment port” or “treatment field”. These marks are very important. They act as a map of the treatment area and the therapist uses them each day to guide your treatment. Sometimes after a few treatments, tiny permanent dots (called tattoos) can be used to replace the painted marks on your skin.

Macmillan booklets and Cancer Tumour Site Specific booklets are given to patients at their unit. The on-site teams will direct you to any information you may need. The Macmillan Support Worker is also available to answer any queries patients may have.