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.
On occasion, you may find yourself waiting because of unavoidable delays. We will always get you into the treatment room as quickly as possible.
Laboratory (lab) work will be obtained throughout your treatment. Every attempt will be made to coordinate lab work with your regular doctor, so lab work will not be done unnecessarily. Results are usually available the next day. Some tests, such as a PSA level, take three days. Your nurse will be happy to answer any of your questions about lab tests.
Seeing the Radiation Oncologist (Weekly Management)
You will be seen by one of the radiation oncologists at least once a week during your course of treatment. These visits will be approximately 15 minutes longer than your usual treatment visit. The visit will usually be with your primary radiation oncologist, but you may see another radiation oncologist in the group. All radiation oncologists are kept informed of your progress and will be able to discuss your individual treatment plan. If you do see someone other than your primary radiation oncologist for your weekly visit, we encourage you to ask any questions or discuss any concerns.
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.
If you have high-dose rate (HDR) implants:
- This type of brachytherapy depends on what type of cancer you have and where it is in your body. You may be in the hospital for the duration of your treatment, or you may come in for treatment on a specific schedule. Your catheter or applicator may stay in place the entire time, or may be inserted each time you come in. Your doctor will remove the catheter or applicator once treatment is complete.
If you have low dose rate permanent seed implants:
- With permanent implants, the radiation source is placed using a catheter and then left in your body. Over time, the radiation will gradually go away. You will not be able to feel the implants and they cause no harm. The implants are left in place permanently.