Hearing the words “you have cancer” may be the most frightening experience of your life. Even if your doctor reminds you that not all cancers are life-threatening, and that, properly treated, many cancer patients survive and return to health, you probably will still feel a little nervous, at least.
But if your doctor recommends radiation therapy, you can be treated with remarkable new technology -- intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
and RapidArc therapy -- if deemed appropriate for your
Using state-of-the-art linear accelerators, IMRT and RapidArc deliver precisely focused radiation beams to destroy cancer without needles, tubes, or catheters. Because the radiation is so tightly focused, you may receive higher doses of radiation to the cancer, while limiting the radiation exposure to healthy tissues surrounding it. As the cancerous cells are damaged and prevented from growing, your healthy cells can recover and your own immune system will help bring you back to health.
If you’d like to read more about the technology available to you, IU Health Bloomington Hospital’s Cancer Radiation Center
pages will explain many more details.
What to expect at my first appointment
After you complete the registration and information forms, you
will receive a thorough physical examination and evaluation by your
physician. Your radiation oncologist has already reviewed your medical
records and diagnosis study. Then the treatment team will simulate a treatment, mapping the position you will be in for each treatment (or for the implantation of the internal radiation device) and the exact location on your body where the radiation will be given. If necessary, your healthcare team will make molds, headrests, or other devices that will help keep you properly positioned during the actual treatment sessions later. You may also receive X-rays or CT scans during the simulation process to help plan the most effective and targeted
We take great care in creating this simulation, and both a physicist and a certified dosimetrist will assist the radiation oncologist in creating your specific treatment plan. All of the information will be carefully plotted into the computer program
of the therapy unit and so, when you return for treatment, your positioning supports will be ready almost instantly to begin each treatment.
Each treatment will be painless and quick, lasting only a few minutes. You should not experience any side effects immediately afterwards and will be able to go about your day as planned after each treatment. You can expect to come in for therapy five consecutive days a week for two to
Each person’s experience of their illness and their treatment will vary, with some people experiencing no side-effects at all, and others’ ranging from very mild to more troublesome. Please feel free to discuss
the side-effects with your physician.