The Radiation Oncology Journey

This film outlines the pathway that a patient will go through when being treated using radiation therapy. It shows the roles of each of the specialties in the radiation oncology team including radiation oncologists, radiation therapists and radiation oncology medical physicists. This film is from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR).

What is the process involved in being treated with Radiotherapy?

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You will be initially seen in the Radiation Oncology clinic by the Radiation Oncologist. At this appointment a detailed medical history, physical exam and review of any investigations you have had (eg CT scans) will be undertaken. Based on this assessment, the Radiation Oncologist with determine if radiotherapy is appropriate in the management of your condition. A detailed explanation of the reasons for radiotherapy, logistics of radiotherapy and potential side effects will be had.

Often times, your case may be discussed at a Multidisciplinary Meeting, which is attended by Radiation Oncologists, Medical Oncologists, Surgeons, Pathologist, Radiologists and Allied Health. At these meetings a consensus recommendation for management is made.

What happens after I see the Radiation Oncologist?

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If radiotherapy is deemed appropriate in the management of your condition, a booking will be made for a Planning (also known as Simulation) appointment. This may occur a few days later depending on your specific circumstances.

At this appointment you will meet the Radiation Therapist who will go over what the session involves. Often this will involve a CT scan, which is used by our team to plan your radiotherapy treatment.

After having your Planning appointment, the Radiation Oncologist, Radiation Therapist and Radiation Oncology Physicist work to create your radiotherapy plan. The length of time this process takes varies (few days to few weeks) depending on your specific circumstances and the assessment of your radiation oncologist. 

What should I expect on the day of treatment?

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On the day of treatment, the session may take up to 45 minutes, but this time is predominately to position you correctly and make any necessary adjustment to the machine. The actual treatment time is 10 minutes. 

How often are the treatments?

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This is dependent on the type of cancer and treatment. Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss this with you. Treatments may vary from one treatment to over 6 weeks.

Are there any side effects?

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Receiving radiotherapy treatment is painless (like an X-ray). However patients may experience side effects. The specific type of side effects you may experience will depend on your radiotherapy plan. Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss in detail the possible short and long term side effects based on your diagnosis and treatment at your initial consultation. During treatment the Radiotherapy Nurses will also discuss with you possible side effects and will review your progress during treatment.

Radiotherapy Breast treatment