At Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology, we walk with you through each step of your cancer treatment journey. Our physicians and staff are here to answer your questions, help you feel comfortable, and let you know what’s next.
Cancer treatment can be scary. Our goal is to walk with you through it.
We start with an initial consultation, either from a reference from your primary care physician or by you calling our team to schedule a second opinion. At that appointment, we’ll review any information we have with you and talk about what your next options are. Once you and your physician jointly decide on a path forward, we’ll walk you through each of the next steps.
An Overview of How Cancer Treatment Works at TBRO
Cancer treatment can seem complex and scary and at TBRO, it’s our goal to make the process as straightforward for you as possible. We’re always here for any questions you have, to take the time to make sure you understand your treatment plan.
You’ll have an initial meeting with your TBRO physician to discuss the test results that brought you to TBRO.
First Day of Treatment
Soon after your CT Simulation appointment, you’ll be scheduled for your first day of radiation treatment.
At least once a week, your TBRO physician will see you at your regularly-scheduled treatment appointment to check on your progress.
What to Expect from Your Initial Consultation
- your current medical problems,
- past medical history,
- past surgical history,
- family history,
- allergies and lifestyle
The doctor will also perform a physical examination to assess the extent of your disease and judge your general physical condition.
After reviewing your medical tests, including CT scans, MRI scans and Positron Emission Tomography scans (PET/CT scans), and completing a thorough examination, your radiation oncologist will fully discuss with you the potential benefits and risks of radiation therapy and answer your questions.
What should you do before the consultation?
- If you have films of current diagnostics, lab results, reports available , please bring them with you
- If you do not have your health information available, please confirm with us upon appointment where we may retrieve the information we need for our physicians to review your case history
How Treatment Planning Works
To be most effective, radiation therapy must be aimed precisely at the same target or targets each and every time treatment is given. The process of measuring your anatomy and marking your skin to help your team direct the beams of radiation safely and exactly to their intended locations is called 3D simulation.
The simulation process begins with your doctor deciding the best treatment position for you to lie in each day. An immobilization device is then created to help secure you into that position which helps keep you from moving during a treatment. There are many different devices used specially designed to secure different positions and areas of the body. They are specifically designed for each patient in order to accurately reproduce your treatment position each and every day.
Once you are comfortably in position, we perform a CT scan in order to create 3-dimensional information of your body. This is done by entering the CT scan into state-of-the-art software which allows the doctor and dosimetry team the ability to view your body from virtually any angle. Often other outside diagnostic studies such as MRI and PET-CT scans are integrated into the simulation to gather as much detail as possible to target the disease. All this data gives your team the ability to create the most conformal angles to treat with while avoiding healthy normal tissue.
Your radiation oncologist will write a prescription dictating the amount of radiation to be given over a specified amount of time. This will also include the technique used to deliver the radiation. This decision is based on all information gathered during your workup including surgical notes, pathology reports, diagnostic reports, physical exams, and close consultation with your other doctors.
The dosimetry team will then develop an isodose treatment plan to match the doctor’s written prescription. This plan displays to the radiation oncologist exactly where and how the radiation is absorbed by the body and how well normal tissue has been spared. Utilizing the IMRT delivery technique to deliver the radiation will yield very conformal isodose plans which help to spare normal tissues.
Once a plan is approved for treatment and all quality assurance tests have been met the plan information is entered into a “record and verify” system for the therapists to use for treatment each day. This system ensures that all parameters of the plan are being met on the treatment machine before the delivery of dose. You are now ready to come in to begin treatments.
Although simulation is typically only one session, your physician may schedule additional sessions depending on the type of cancer you have and the type of radiation therapy that is being used.
What to Expect from Weekly Status Checks
During radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist and nurse will see you regularly to follow your progress, evaluate whether you are having any side effects, recommend treatments for those side effects (such as medication or diet changes) and address any concerns you may have.
As treatment progresses, your doctor may make changes in the schedule or treatment plan depending on your response or reaction to the therapy.
Your radiation therapy team may gather on a regular basis with other healthcare professionals to review your case to ensure your treatment is proceeding as planned.
During this session, all the members of the team discuss your progress as well as any concerns.
How Post-Treatment Follow-Up Works
After treatment is completed, follow-up appointments will be scheduled so that your radiation oncologist can make sure your recovery is proceeding normally and can continue to monitor your health status.
Your radiation oncologist may also order additional diagnostic tests and reports on your treatment will be sent to your other doctors.
As time goes on, the frequency of your visits will decrease. However, you should know that your radiation oncology team will always be available should you need to speak to someone about your treatment.
Need more info? Check out our most frequently asked questions.
How soon can I schedule an appointment?
We have appointments available this week, and can likely schedule your initial consultation within 24-48 hours of you calling our office. We understand cancer is something that requires urgency – and we’re here to meet that urgency.
How many appointments will there be?
The total number of appointments you’ll have depends on the treatment path you and your doctor decide on. This is something you’ll discuss in-depth at your initial consultation.
Is radiation painful?
Radiation is painless and touchless, but as the radiation builds up in your body through treatment, there can be local side effects in the area being treatment. Radiation side effects are much more isolated than treatments like chemo, but they are specific to the area being treated. For more details about what to expect with side effects, talk to your radiation oncologist.
How close are you to my house?
With convenient locations around Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has options for radiation treatment that are likely to be near you. Which location you go to will depend on the treatment plan you develop with your doctor.
Let's treat your cancer - together.
We have appointments available with our physicians this week – schedule an initial consultation or a second opinion.
What to Expect: New Patient Intake Navigator
Find out more about our New Patient Intake Navigator, Leia Bubble, and how her very personal story led her to be passionate about helping people navigate through cancer treatment.