Q1. What is RapidArc?
Answer: The Cancer Center is the only facility in Northern Virginia to offer RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology, a fast, precise cancer treatment from Varian Medical Systems. This new approach to radiation therapy enables clinicians to deliver precise forms of IMRT up to eight times faster than is possible with conventional systems. RapidArc quickly delivers a complete IMRT treatment in a single rotation of the treatment machine around the patient, for more precise targeting of the tumor and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Q2. Why do I need a CT scan for radiation? I just had one recently at the hospital.
Answer: This CT scan will be used to help plan your treatments. You will be positioned on the CT scanner in the exact same position that you will be treated in each day. During this time, we may make an immobilization device to help you to hold still and the doctor will locate the exact area of treatment.
Q3. Can you tell what is happening with the cancer by these x-rays?
Answer: No. The x-rays are for positioning purposes only.
Q4. What is a boost?
Answer: A boost is an additional dose of radiation given to the tumor or surgical area towards the end of your course of treatment. The boost is usually a much smaller field size and smaller treatment area than your original treatments.
Q5. How many weeks will my treatments last and how long does each treatment take?
Answer: Most patients will receive daily treatments, Monday-Friday, for about 6-8 weeks. The actual treatments usually take about 5-10 minutes, but plan on being at the cancer center for about 20-30 minutes.
Q6. Can I miss a treatment? Will it affect my outcome?
Answer: Although we expect that you will come in for your daily treatments, there will be situations where you may have to miss 1 or 2 treatments. Please be sure to talk to the radiation therapist, nurse and doctor prior to this occurring. You will make up this treatment at the end of your course.
Q7. I feel fine. Why do I have to see the doctor every week?
Answer:The doctor needs to see each patient each week in order to evaluate your skin, discuss any side effects that you may be having and to generally answer any new question that you may have. On occasion, the doctor may also take your vital signs or order some other tests to further evaluate your progress.
Q8. Will I have the same treatment time every day? What if I have a doctor's appointment or an appointment for chemotherapy?
Answer: We will keep the same time for your treatment each day. If you know of an occasion, such as a doctor’s appointment, chemotherapy treatment or anything else that might require you to need a different time on a specific day, please let the radiation therapists know several days in advance, and they will be able to accommodate a different time for you.
Q9. Will I start radiation today? How soon can I start radiation?
Answer: If this is your first consultation with the doctor, it is unlikely that you will begin treatments immediately. In most cases, treatments will begin 1 to 2 weeks after this first consultation. These schedules will vary for each patient and type of cancer.
Q10. I have an oncology doctor and surgeon at another facility, but would like to get radiation therapy treatments at The Cancer Center, since that is closer to my home. Is this OK?
Answer: Yes, you may receive radiation treatments at The Cancer Center, regardless of where your other doctors are located. If you are referred to a radiation oncologist, you may come to The Cancer Center for a consultation. During this initial consultation, you can tour the facility, meet the radiation therapy team – which includes radiation oncologist Dr. Sanjeev Aggarwal, a radiation therapist who delivers the treatment, and a dosemitrist who plans the treatment – and ask any questions. If you choose to have your radiation therapy here, Dr. Aggarwal will work closely with the rest of your medical oncology team to review your medical record, develop a treatment plan, and communicate necessary information about your care.
Q11. What if I have outside x-rays and studies?
Answer: If your studies were done at either Prince WilliamHospital or Fauquier Hospital, we will be able to access the report and images (except for mammograms) from our system. If you had studies done outside of these two hospitals, we would need you to bring in a copy of your study on a disk for us to review.