General Information Treatment Process
1. At a GlanceBefore Treatment
- Patient meets with radiation oncologist
- Treatment simulation is completed
- Treatment plan is developed by radiation oncology team
- Daily outpatient visits
- Imaging done for accurate positioning
- TomoTherapy® treatment delivery
- Weekly status checks between doctor and patient
- Continued quality assurance by treatment team
- Follow-up appointments between doctor and patient
2. Coordination Among the Medical Team
Treatment involves a team approach.
The team is directed by a radiation oncologist, working with several specialists, which may include
- A surgeon
- A medical physicist
- A radiation therapist, and
- Medical support staff
Once the team is in place, treatment preparation begins.
Before beginning treatment, the medical team puts together a plan using 3D images from a combination of imaging technologies (such as CT, MRI or PET) and special software that helps define the size and shape of each tumor and its proximity to surrounding sensitive organs or tissues.
Using these images, the doctor prescribes the amount of radiation the treatment area should receive, while sparing surrounding healthy tissue as much as possible.
The System then calculates the appropriate pattern, position and intensity of the radiation beam to be delivered based on the doctor’s prescription.
On each treatment day, the patient enters the room and lies on the treatment couch. For some treatments, therapists will also prepare immobilization devices to help the patient remain still during the procedure.
The System acts as both a CT scanner and treatment delivery machine. This unique combination enables doctors to take a CT scan immediately before each treatment. With that image, they can verify the position of the tumor and, if necessary, adjust the patient's position to help make sure radiation is delivered with extreme precision. Once the short imaging procedure is complete, the patient is ready for treatment.
As the couch moves through the center of the system at a deliberate pace, radiation beamlets are delivered precisely to the treatment area from 360 degrees. Each beamlet is an individually optimized dose of radiation that is targeted at the tumor, enabling customized and precise treatment delivery to the tumor site. The beamlets combine in the tumor to contribute to the total radiation dose. This unique delivery method minimizes the impact on healthy surrounding tissue and organs.
Patients can expect their treatment to require daily sessions for one to 10 weeks, with each session lasting, on average, 10 to 20 minutes, including patient set-up time.
Most patients experience minimal side effects and can quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption to their normal activities. One of the most common side effects reported by patients is fatigue. Doctors will discuss possible side effects prior to treatment and may prescribe medication to control any side effects, should they occur.
Patients are strongly encouraged to schedule and attend all follow-up appointments.
Most side effects of radiotherapy, including radiotherapy delivered with Accuray systems, are mild and temporary, often involving fatigue, nausea, and skin irritation. Side effects can be severe, however, leading to pain, alterations in normal body functions (for example, urinary or salivary function), deterioration of quality of life, permanent injury and even death. Side effects can occur during or shortly after radiation treatment or in the months and years following radiation. The nature and severity of side effects depend on many factors, including the size and location of the treated tumor, the treatment technique (for example, the radiation dose), the patient's general medical condition, to name a few. For more details about the side effects of your radiation therapy, and if treatment with an Accuray product is right for you, ask your doctor.