The radiotherapy process involves a number of complex steps, and your oncologist may recommend different procedures or sequences. The process will usually include the following:
- Patient evaluation
- Preparing for treatment
- Clinical treatment planning
- Therapeutic simulation and development of dose distribution
- Pre-treatment QA
- Radiation treatment delivery
- Radiation treatment management
- Follow-up care management
The radiation oncologist leads a clinical team of physicists and dosimetrists in providing the best possible treatment and aftercare for the patient.
How Is A Treatment Plan Determined?
A radiation oncologist develops a treatment plan through a process called treatment planning. Beginning with a simulation, detailed image scans will indicate the location of a patient’s tumor and the healthy parts around it. The radiographer will measure the body size and shape in the treatment area. These scans are usually conducted using computer tomography (CT), but can also be conducted through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), or ultrasound scans. The objective of this procedure is to learn as much as possible about individual patients’ treatment needs.
The first radiotherapy session will be the longest, lasting an hour or more. During the CT simulation, the medical team takes several measurements and x-ray images to check that the treatment zone is correct, using markers on the skin to outline the area.
The radiation oncologist will advise the final number of treatments. Patients may receive one treatment per day over a number of weeks. Over the course of the treatment, the patient must attend regular appointments to monitor progress.
CT images of patient in treatment position are obtained
Radiation Oncologist contours target and organs at risk on treatment planning system (TPS)
Radiation Oncologist prescribes radiation doses and planning instructions
Dosimetrist creates radiation plan on TPS
Radiation Oncologist reviews and approves plan
Treatment plan undergoes quality assurance checks
Data is transferred to Linear Accelerator
Patient receives treatment
Daily or Weekly QA images of RT treatment are taken to verify treatment fields are correct