Your First Appointment
For your first appointment we ask that you provide:
- Current contact information
- Your insurance cards
- A list of all current prescriptions as well as over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal supplements
- A list of questions or concerns that you may want to discuss with your physician - It may be helpful to bring someone to help you listen to the facts and keep the information in context.
- You appointment will last between 60-90 minutes.
- Once it is determined that you will be receiving radiation therapy the radiation oncology staff will take care of coordinating all aspects of your care.
We accept most commercial insurances, Medicare and Medicaid. We want to help ensure that you will have the coverage you need, so you can concentrate on treatment and recovery. Our team will help obtain preauthorization (verbal approval from the insurance companies or Medicare/Medicaid) for simulations and radiation therapy treatments. We will work to communicate your financial responsibility to you in advance and will submit claims to your carrier on your behalf.
Please bring your insurance identification card(s) with you. A photocopy will be placed in your billing file. If you are covered by more than one insurance company, please let us know which company is the primary carrier. This will help to avoid any delays in receiving benefits. If there is any change in your health coverage, please contact the office to update your records. Our staff will make every effort to help you understand your benefits and communicate with your insurance carrier(s).
Scheduling an appointment with a caring, world-class radiation oncologist will help determine if radiation therapy is right for you. During your initial visit, a radiation professional will review your current medical problems, past medical history, surgical history, family history, medications, allergies and lifestyle to determine your candidacy and need for radiation. Along with a thorough examination, pre-treatment medical tests will also be performed and your radiation oncologist will discuss potential radiation benefits and risks and provide an opportunity to ask questions.
Simulation and Treatment Planning
To help your team direct radiation safely and exactly, a simulation is performed. During simulation, the patient is positioned in the manner that treatment will be administered, and a CT scan is taken of the area to be treated. Small marks are placed on the skin as part of the set-up process the day before treatment. For some patients, a 4-dimensional CT scan to measure respiratory motion of lung tumors may be used as well at MRI or PET scans. The simulation process typically takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes.
Your care planning team, consisting of your physician, a physicist and a dosimetrist, will review all resulting information along with other previous medical tests or images, ultimately arriving at a customized treatment plan that is the best possible approach to treating your cancer.
External Beam Radiation Therapy Treatments
External Beam Radiation Therapy consists of directing X-ray beams from a machine outside the body to a specified area inside. These treatments are painless and usually given on an outpatient basis, once per day Monday through Friday, but may be administered twice per day based on physician orders. Treatments take place over the course of one to eight weeks and take approximately 15 to 30 minutes each. Treatments are scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Weekly Status Checks
To ensure your treatments are progressing according to your treatment plan, oncology patients meet with one of our radiation oncologists once a week on an alternating basis. During this time, any side effects, concerns and questions will be addressed. Changes in your schedule or treatment plan may also be made.
Imaging During Treatment
To ensure that the treatment beams remain precisely aimed at the proper target, your treatment team will also use the treatment machine or separate imaging devices such as ultrasound during or before treatment to determine changes in tumor position. These images may be taken daily or weekly.
Get Plenty of Rest
To help with the common side effect of fatigue during radiation therapy, be sure to get plenty of rest.
Eat a Balanced, Nutritious Diet
Proper nutrition is very important and includes consuming in the correct amount of calories, vitamins and minerals during radiation treatment. For the best outcomes, dieting should be avoided along with certain antioxidants that might interfere with treatment.
Treat the Skin Exposed to Radiation with Extra Care
The skin area receiving radiation may become red and sensitive. Some helpful care instructions include:
- Cleanse the skin daily with warm water and a mild soap recommended by your nurse
- Follow skin care instructions given by your oncology nurse during the first week of treatment
- Avoid using lotions, perfumes, deodorants or powders in the treatment area unless your doctor or nurse approves them, avoid any products containing alcohol or perfume
- Treated skin is sensitive to fluctuations in hot and cold including heating and ice packs
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on treated areas and avoid sun exposure of the area altogether
Receiving good emotional support during treatment can help patients cope with the common psychological symptoms of cancer treatment including anxiety, depression, fear and hopelessness. Many patients find it very helpful to talk about their feelings with a close friend, family member, nurse, social worker, chaplain or psychologist. Parker Adventist Hospital also offers many support groups for patients undergoing cancer treatment. For more information please call Linda Mitchell 303-269-4975.
To ensure that each patient's recovery is in line with their customized treatment plan, follow-up appointments will be scheduled with your radiation oncologist after radiation therapy is completed. In addition to monitoring your status, additional diagnostic tests may be ordered and reports may be sent to other doctors for optimum outcomes.