To battle with cancer is challenging. To prepare you for it in the best way possible, here is a description of what you can expect from the moment you enter our special hospital to the moment you return to your home. Details regarding some of the treatment parts could vary depending on the patient’s case.
In case that you need radio surgical treatment, after coming to the special hospital our radio oncology specialist and/or surgical oncologist subspecialist will take you in for a consultation. They will analyze your case and will recommend best type of treatment for you. They will also explain if only one treatment type will be sufficient or if they will need to add additional treatment types, what is the goal of the treatment and which side effects can be expected.
Consultations are the opportunity to ask everything that interests you and to become more familiar with the details of the treatment process.
Before our experts can plan your treatment, the exact size and the location of the tumor need to be determined. We achieve this by creating a 3D simulation using CT and MRI devices. Depending on the location of the tumor, type of illness and other factors it is possible that additional scans such as PET scan or ultrasound will be needed. Your doctor will then analyze the computer simulation to see the tumor from every angle.
It is extremely important that the position of your body during the diagnostics procedure and the operation is identical. Sometimes we will make small temporary markings on your skin so that our personnel can place you in the correct position for the operation. Depending on the tumor position it is possible that you will receive a custom made head mask or a holder for certain body part so that you are provided with maximum comfort while being in the same position during the operation.
3. Treatment planning
After your scans are completed, our doctors will make your treatment plan in cooperation with medical physicists and dosimetrists. They will take numerous factors into consideration such as the type, location and the size of the tumor, your medical history and your laboratory results. All of these factors are important when planning optimal radiation dosage that will be used during the operation, the position in which the procedure will be done and the number of required treatments.
4. Treatment preparations
Before every treatment, you will change into a hospital gown. After that the radiotherapist will position you on the operating table and will place on you a mask or a holder that is custom made for you. The table will be placed so that the laser beam is positioned on the skin marking. In some cases, another scan will be done before the treatment. The purpose of the new scan is to show if the tumor has changed in its size or position after the original scan. If the changes are present the radiotherapist will adjust the table so that you are properly positioned for the treatment.
5. The treatment begins
Radiation comes from a machine that is called linear accelerator (Varian EDGE). Inside the accelerator’s dome is the multi-leaf collimator, part of the machine that shapes the radiation beam so that it assumes the shape of the tumor. During the operation, the dome will circle around you so that the radiation beam reaches all parts of the tumor. The radiation beam itself cannot be seen with naked eye and you will not be able to see it while it travels between the machine and the tumor.
Duration of each treatment can vary from a couple of minutes up to an hour.
6. Treatment completion
It is possible that you will experience certain side effects following the radiosurgery treatment. If they happen it is also possible that they will appear after a couple of treatments because the effects of the radiation treatment are cumulative. Be sure to notify our oncological team if you have any questions before or during the treatment or if you experience any discomfort.
After the operation is completed your doctor will suggest a schedule for periodical postoperative checkups in our special hospital so that the treatment results can be monitored. Usually there is a period between one and three months before the first checkup and after that the additional checkups are arranged in half-year intervals but depending on your case maybe yours will be less frequent. If the symptoms suggest a relapse, it is possible that diagnostic examinations such as blood test, ultrasound, CT, MRI, chest x-ray or bone scans will be required.