Gateway-Vanderbilt Cancer Treatment Center
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Hours of Operation:
Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Phone: 931-221-0479
Fax: 931-221-3280

375 Alfred Thun Road
Clarksville, TN 37040

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Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation to destroy cancer cells within your body. There are several forms of radiation available. We use both x-ray and electron radiation. The type of radiation used will be selected by the radiation oncologist and be the best choice for your specific type of cancer, the extent of your disease and its location. With careful planning, radiation can be sculpted so it is directed to the cancer and away from healthy tissue.

Consultation

During your consultation you will meet with the radiation oncologist to determine if radiation therapy will be recommended to treat your disease. The registered nurse will go over some information forms with you. The radiation oncologist will answer all of your questions and discuss the benefits and risks that may be associated with the radiation therapy. The radiation oncologist will also explain the simulation and treatment process to you.

Simulation

The radiation oncologist works with a radiation therapist and a dosimeterist to obtain a three-dimensional view of the area to be treated. Using a computed tomography (CT) simulator, the area on your body is marked for reference. This generally takes one hour but may take more or less time depending on the complexity of the treatment setup. You may be asked to drink a liquid contrast prior to the scan or be given an intravenous (IV) contrast during the scan. The contrast will aid the radiation oncologist in pinpointing the target on your scan.

During this time you will be positioned so we may best treat the area directed by the radiation oncologist. The CT scan is performed for planning purposes which is different than a diagnostic CT. The isocenter of the radiation field is defined and the treatment field marked on your skin and/or any positioning devices made during this session. Finally documentation of your treatment setup is collected.

Treatment Planning

Following the simulation process the treatment planning begins. This is a time when all of the information collected during your simulation is transferred to a treatment planning system. The radiation oncologist works with a dosimetrist and physicist to obtain the best treatment plan for the patient. This process may take from several hours to several days depending on the complexity of the treatment plan. The radiation oncologist will shape and sculpt the radiation beams to increase the accuracy of the treatment and to decrease side effects. Each patient’s treatment plan is designed specifically for his or her diagnosis and status.

Treatment

Your daily treatments will be performed by a registered radiation therapist using a linear accelerator or 'linac'. Most patients are required to come daily for treatment. The radiation therapist will work with you to find a treatment time to fit your schedule. The radiation oncologist will visit with you each week to evaluate your progress, address any symptoms you may have and answer your questions.

During your treatment time you may be asked to change into a patient gown so that the marks made during simulation can be seen. The radiation therapists will position you and then leave the room to start the radiation treatment. They will have constant visual and voice contact with you at all times. It is very important to lie as still as possible during this time and to breathe normally. The length of your treatment time may vary from field to field as your treatment is dose-dependent and not time-dependent.

If you have any questions at any time please relay this to the therapists so that we may assist you.

Completion of Radiation Therapy

You will be scheduled for follow-up appointments so that the radiation oncologist can assess your progress. You may call our clinic at any time if you have additional questions or concerns regarding your radiation therapy.

 

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