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Radiation Oncology (Radiotherapy)
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> General Guidelines
> Radiation Therapy Procedure
> Skin care instructions during radiation therapy
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Radiation oncology, or radiotherapy, is a treatment that uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells in your body. It is often done on an outpatient basis, and is often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
The Jewish Hospital radiation oncology team is one of the most experienced in Greater Cincinnati. Our mission is to provide patients with:
- The most sophisticated and effective treatments, including intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), brachytherapy and MCL (multi-leaf collimation). Our radiation therapists are all certified by the American Registry of Radiological Technologists.
- State-of-the-art equipment, including a CT scanner dedicated to treatment planning, localizer simulator, high energy linear accelerator unit, and brachytherapy real time treatment planning computer for prostate implants and 3D conformal treatment planning system.
- A comfortable and convenient setting, including treatment times that begin at 6 a.m. and guaranteed garage parking just outside the door to the department.
- A team of highly skilled and dedicated physicians who specialize in radiation therapy. Our board certified physicists all hold PhDs.
- Care for the whole person. We want our patients to focus on one thing only - getting better. If you have any questions, please ask. The staff at Jewish Hospital wants you to be informed and confident about your treatment. If you need to adjust your diet during treatment, which is often the case, the Jewish Hospital is one of the few cancer centers in Greater Cincinnati that has dietician dedicated to oncology with the experience and knowledge to help you. We also have social workers available to patients, as well as financial assistance counselors.
General guidelines for radiation therapy
- Your radiation oncologist will see you at least once a week. If you have any questions or problems that cannot wait, please ask the staff to page your doctor.
- An oncology-registered nurse will see you to evaluate your skin and any other side effects you may have.
- The radiation oncology dietician will evaluate you to assess your nutritional needs.
- An oncology social worker is available to assist you if needed. Please notify us if you would like to meet with a social worker.
- Port films, or x-rays, may be taken periodically to make sure everything is positioned correctly for your treatment. These x-rays are not diagnostic.
- Treatments are scheduled Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Special arrangements are available and treatment is scheduled to meet the patient’s needs.
Radiation therapy procedure
Before radiation treatments can begin, you will have a simulation treatment planning session. A simulator is an x-ray that mimics the action of a radiation treatment machine. The linear x-ray helps to individualize your treatment. Simulation can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as an hour and a half. In simulation, the patient lies on a narrow, hard table while special x-rays are taken. These x-rays outline the treatment area. The outline of the treatment area will be on your skin and marked with a permanent marker. The information obtained from the x-rays is used to plan your treatment. A treatment planning CT scan may or may not need to be done as well.
The marks made on your skin are very important to maintain consistent treatment. Do not wash these marks off. They must stay on until all of your treatments are completed.
Treatment usually begins within a few days of your simulation. It takes time to customize your treatment with dose calculations, planning treatment fields and creating special blocks or shields. These steps do not require your presence.
The staff will assist you on and off the treatment table every day. They will position you and any special devices needed. The therapist will leave the room. Even though you are alone in the room, the therapist can see and hear you at all times. A monitoring device allows the therapist to see you, talk to you and hear you.
You cannot feel or see the radiation. It is not painful. You will not be radioactive. It may take about 15 minutes to set up the equipment for your treatment. When the machine is on, you may hear a buzzing sound. The actual treatment usually takes less than 15 minutes.
Skin care instructions during radiation therapy
You may notice some changes in the area being treated with radiation. These changes will be limited to the area actually being treated. These changes are referred to as a radiation skin reaction. A radiation skin reaction may begin as a pinkness or darkening of the treatment area. It is important that you report any changes in the area to a member of the treatment team. Prevention is the key to maintaining skin integrity as the radiation therapy proceeds.
Some helpful hints for promoting skin integrity include:
- Do not wash off or remove the marks that the therapist puts on your skin.
- Skin should be kept moisturized and not exposed to any product that contains metals, alcohol, talcum or perfumes. Moisturizing soaps such as Dove, are preferred. Use lotions that absorb water such as Lubriderm or Aloe. NO petroleum jelly.
- Do not apply moisturizes or skin care products within the two hours before radiation treatment.
- Avoid using deodorants within the area being treated. Herbal deodorants that do not contain metal or alcohol may be used. It is okay to use cornstarch to help with perspiration as long as you do not leave it on the skin more than a few hours at a time.
- If you need to shave the area being treated, use an electric razor.
- Wear loose cotton clothing whenever possible.
- If possible, do not expose treatment area to direct sunlight or tanning beds. If unavoidable be sure to apply sunscreen with SPF of at least 30. Avoid extreme temperatures in the treatment area. No ice packs or heating pads.
- If a blister develops in the area, do not break it. Make sure you show it to a member of our treatment team.
Peter R. Fried, M.D.
Medical school: Medical School of Virginia
Residency: New York University
Fellowing: New York University
Board Certification: Radiation Oncology
Specialty: Radiation Oncology
Special interest: prostate cancer
Richard L. Levy, M.D.
Medical Director, Radiation Oncology, The Jewish Hospital
Medical school: University of Cincinnati
Residency: University of Cincinnati
Fellowship: University of California, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation
Board certification: Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, Internal Medicine
Specialty: Radiation Oncology
Special interest: General Radiation Oncology
Wagih M. Shehata, M.D.
Medical school: Cairo University Medical School
Residency: Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Memorial Hospital for Cancer & Allied Diseases
Fellowship: New York Methodist Hospital
Board certification: Radiation Oncology
Specialty: Radiation Oncology
Special interest: prostate/breast cancer