Treatment Process

Step 1. Consultation Step 2. CT/Simulation Step 3. Treatment Planning Step 4. Radiation Therapy Step 5. Followup Step 1. Consultation Step 2. CT/Simulation Step 3. Treatment Planning Step 4. Radiation Therapy Step 5. Followup

Step 2. CT/Simulation

Simulation is the first part of the radiation treatment planning process for most patients. During this procedure, you will not receive an actual radiation treatment. It is for your Radiation Oncologist to obtain information that is needed to design a radiation therapy plan that is uniquely suited for your body and your cancer. This procedure usually lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. 

You will be asked to change into a gown (if necessary) and then lie flat on an X-ray table in our CT Simulator room. Your Radiation Oncologist and Radiation Therapists will work together to determine the best positioning of your body for the treatments. It is very important that you remain as still as possible during the simulation.

An immobilization device may be designed to help ensure that your body is in a reproducible position for each day of actual radiation treatments. Some examples of immobilization devices are:
• A face mask for treatment of cancers involving the brain, head, or neck region
• A board with arm supports for treatment of breast cancers
• A hip mold for treatment of prostate cancers

Once your body has been placed in position, temporary pinpoint marks and localization stickers will be placed on your skin. A rapid CT scan will then be obtained of the relevant region of your body. Our CT Simulator machine has a very large opening through which your body is imaged, thereby maximizing patient comfort even for those with claustrophobia.

Once the CT scan is obtained, the localization stickers on your body are removed and the temporary pinpoint marks are made permanent with ink.  The purpose of these very small marks, or tattoos, is to allow us to position your body precisely on the treatment machine prior to each and every radiation treatment. You can bathe normally after these permanent marks are made and need not be concerned about accidentally washing them off.

The information obtained during the simulation session is sent to our radiation treatment planning systems in order to generate a specific treatment plan that is designed especially for you. This complex treatment planning process typically requires a few days.

After your simulation procedure, one of our receptionists will contact you with an appointment date to start your actual radiation treatments. This date will take into account the time required for the treatment planning process. 

Cancer Guide