Radiation Oncology

During Your Treatment

The Center for Cancer Prevention and Treatment at St. Joseph Hospital strives to make you as comfortable as possible during your radiation treatment. After you arrive for your treatment and check in, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown or robe and will go to your treatment room.

Seeing the Radiation Oncologist (Weekly Management)

During radiation treatment, patients are seen weekly by either their radiation oncologist or the nurse practitioner. This appointment follows treatment that day and usually takes about 15 minutes. The purpose of this weekly visit is to see if you are tolerating the treatment and to manage any side effects from the treatment, as well as potential symptoms from the cancer. In some circumstances, response to treatment will be reviewed. This visit may include assessing vitals, changes in body weight, skin changes within the treatment field and review of symptoms such as fatigue, nausea/vomiting, etc. Your radiation oncologist or nurse practitioner can prescribe medications to help with side effects and symptoms. This appointment is also a good opportunity to discuss any questions you have for your radiation oncologist about your cancer treatment. You might also see a dietician if your doctor feels that nutrition is an issue.

If you are receiving external beam radiation therapy:

  • Once in the treatment room, the radiation therapist will position you for treatment. He or she may place the special cushion, body mold or mask that was created during the CT Simulation. You may see colored lights that line up with the tattoos or pen marks on your skin. These lights are used to line up the radiation machine and position the beam. They are harmless.
  • The radiation therapist will leave the room to begin your treatment, but you will not be left alone. The radiation therapist will be in the next room and can see, hear and talk with you at all times through a television monitor and an audio system. Please tell the radiation therapist if you are uncomfortable at any time. You will need to hold still during the length of the treatment, but will be able to breathe normally. You will not feel, see or smell anything unusual during your treatment.

If you are receiving brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy):

  • Brachytherapy is a form of treatment in which a catheter or an applicator is placed inside the body through which the radiation treatment is applied. Most patients have their catheter or applicator put in place in the hospital. You might have anesthesia to put you to sleep for the insertion of the catheter or applicator. Or you may simply have that area of your body numbed, depending on what type of brachytherapy you receive, what type of cancer you have and where it is in your body. You should tell your doctor or nurse if you feel any pain.
  • There are different types of brachytherapy. How long you are in the hospital and the safety precautions you will need to take during and after your treatment depend on which type you receive. Your doctor and nurse will carefully review all of the safety measures with you and your family.