What to Expect During Treatment
Although every patient's treatment plan is different, you can expect that it will involve the following components.
- Daily Appointments for Several Weeks. Radiation therapy is usually given on a structured schedule over the course of several weeks or months. Most cancer patients receive four or five treatment sessions each week for several weeks. Depending on your needs or treatment protocol, you may go a week "on," then a week "off" over the course of several months.
- Weekly Assessment Meetings. You will meet once each week with your radiation oncologist and nurse to assess your progress. Each radiation oncologist on our staff meets with their patients on a specific day; your specific day will be written on the appointment card inside this patient information handbook. This meeting day will not vary, unless a major holiday, emergency, or other conflict interferes.
- Blood and Lab Tests. Most patients have their blood drawn for testing weekly, often on Mondays. Routine blood tests include a CBC (complete blood count) and platelet count. Sometimes, a physician in another clinical area or a nurse will schedule you for lab tests mid-week. When this occurs, please notify us so we can have your radiation oncology tests done at the same time.
- Port Films. At the beginning of each treatment week, the therapist will take your "port films" to verify your treatment setup and treatment prescription. This is one way we can assure the quality and accuracy of your radiation therapy. (For more information on port films and treatment simulation, see the "Excellence in Cancer Care" brochure.)
When to Arrive
After your simulation, you will be given an appointment card with the time and date of your first appointment for treatment. Your appointment time will usually be the same throughout your course of treatment (examples: Tuesdays at 2:15 pm or Thursdays at 10:45 am). Routine treatments are scheduled from Monday through Friday on a daily basis between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, except for holidays.
We treat many patients here, and appointments are scheduled at 15-minute intervals. There are a limited number of treatment machines. Please arrive on time so that other patients are not delayed or inconvenienced. If you will be late for your treatment, please call us at (773) 702-2525 or (773) 834-7297.
As much as possible, we will try to schedule the treatments at times that are convenient for you. Please let your therapist know if there is a specific time that works best for you, or any ongoing time conflicts you may have. We will do our best to accommodate your request, but cannot guarantee that the specific time you want will be available. If you must see your radiation oncologist on a day other than your regularly scheduled day, please let your nurse or therapist know. They will help you arrange a different time for the physician meeting.
We understand that emergencies and occasional conflicts may occur at your appointment time. It is essential that you do not skip any treatments or other clinic appointments. Therefore, if you must reschedule your appointment, please call us as soon as possible. (One day's notice is helpful.) Your therapist or clinic coordinator will advise you of any schedule changes caused by major holidays.