Knowing what to expect at each step of your journey can help put your mind at ease, so you can focus on treatment and getting well. Here’s a look at some of the first appointments you may have.
Your first appointment with your surgeon
For many cancers, surgery is the first step of the treatment journey. When you make your first appointment, the receptionist will let you know what information to bring with you. This will likely include imaging and test results, which will enable your surgeon to perform a comprehensive consultation and make a recommendation about the surgical approach that’s right for you. Your surgeon may also request additional imaging to better assess your tumor. Learn more about cancer surgery.
Your first medical oncology appointment
When you make your first appointment, the receptionist will let you know what information to bring with you. This will likely include imaging and test results, which will enable us to perform a comprehensive consultation. After your visit, we’ll report promptly to your referring and family doctors. You’ll be set up with a pre-treatment visit to create an individualized treatment plan. During this visit, you may meet with a social worker, pharmacist and nursing staff, as well as receive a tour of the clinic if desired.
Your first cancer treatment
When you make your infusion clinic appointment, we’ll let you know how long your treatment will take and if there are any pre-treatment requirements, such as blood tests. Your first visit will be longer than the rest of your visits to allow time to discuss your individualized treatment plan with you. We encourage you to ask questions and bring along a loved one or activities to keep yourself occupied, like a laptop, DVD player or book.
Your first radiation oncology appointment
Your first appointment will be a consultation to review your health history, perform a physical exam and discuss your treatment options. You may also need to schedule other diagnostic tests to determine the best course of treatment and/or your physical ability to start treatment.
At the next scheduled appointment, we’ll typically review and discuss test results and/or a simulation. This appointment typically takes 30 to 90 minutes, and involves using either a specialized CT scan or X-rays to determine the treatment field position.
Once we’ve determined the treatment areas on your body, we’ll mark them with a pen or a tattoo. These are used to record the location of the treatment field for your current treatment, and may need to be identified again in the future. If a CT scan is required either before or sometime during your treatment, it will be performed on-site where we have a specialized, dedicated scanner used only for radiation treatment planning. This scan typically takes 10 to 30 minutes.
To allow time to complete the complex computerized treatment planning, treatment usually begins seven to 10 business days after the simulation appointment. Additional time may be needed to plan more technical forms of therapy. The number of treatments prescribed by your radiation oncologist will depend on the size, location, type and radio sensitivity of your cancer, as well as your general health. Treatment time varies by individual and depends on your specific treatment. Generally, treatments are short and painless. It’s important to lie very still during the treatment. You’ll be able to communicate with your radiation therapist during treatment via an audio-visual system.
Treatments are scheduled Monday through Friday. Occasionally, there may be an unavoidable delay that will necessitate you waiting beyond your scheduled appointment time, and we apologize should this occur. We assure you, however, that we do make every possible attempt to keep the treatment schedule on time.
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