Once the decision has been made by you and your oncologist to progress to Radiation Treatment, a planning appointment will be posted to you. Planning is necessary to pin point the area to be treated and the position you will need to be in for your treatment.
This appointment will take place in the Computed Tomography (CT) planning room in the Radiation Therapy department. This appointment will include an education session and the planning CT scan.
If there is a requirement for some preparation prior to the CT, a letter will be sent to you explaining what you need to do, or a staff member will phone you to discuss the instructions. It is important that these are instructions are followed, as they can impact on the quality of the scan. If you have any concerns or questions about this please just contact the Oncology Deparment.
You are welcome to bring a support person/s with you for the appointment.
The Education Session
During the first part of the session, a Radiation Therapist (RT) will discuss the planning process and treatment with you and ensure that you have all the information that you require. We can also refer you to a number of support services to help you throughout your treatment if needed.
The second part of the appointment is a CT scan. A CT scan is a computerised x-ray procedure that produces images of the inside of your body allowing the doctor and the RadiationTherapist (RT) to see exactly where they need to deliver the treatment.
The scan is painless and usually takes about 20 -30 minutes. During this time the RT will get you to lie in the position that you need to be in for treatment. It is important that you are as comfortable as possible to ensure that you can relax and remain still for your treatment. Please tell the RT's if there is anything that they can do to make you more comfortable.
After the scan, the RT's may need to place some permanent marks (small freckle sized tattoo dots) onto your skin. These small marks help us to ensure that you are in exactly the same position each day when we give you your treatment.
After your Scan
After your CT you should be given an appointment letter telling you when you will start your treatment. If your start date is unknown at that time of the scan then you will be phoned as soon as it is arranged. Please note that there is a gap between your planning and treatment start date to allow the radiation therapists and your doctor to produce a treatment plan specifically for you. This gap is normally no longer than 14 days.
If We are Treating your Head and/or Neck Area
If we are treating your head and/or neck area we may need to make an immobilisation mask. This process involves draping a sheet of warm, wet, bendy plastic over your head and shoulders and then allowing it to cool and harden so that it makes as exact mould of your head. The mesh allows you to breathe normally while you are in the mask.
The mask is very important as it ensures that you remain comfortably still and are in the exact same position each day to ensure precise delivery for your treatment. All marks can then be drawn on your mask. The mask will be made at the time of your planning CT.
The mask making process takes approximately 10 minutes and will be done at the same time as your planning CT if it is needed. The RT's will discuss the process with you in more detail at the education session prior to the scan.