Vanguard Weiss Memorial Hospital’s new Center for Radiation Oncology provides innovative radiation therapy treatment options using the latest medical technology within a warm and caring environment. The center, which opened in October of 2011, features our experienced staff of nurses and physicians whose top priority is listening and meeting our patients’ needs.
Our newly installed linear accelerator, called Linac for short, features IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) technology which allows for precise targeting of cancerous tumors and maximum protection of surrounding healthy tissues. Such treatment offers the highest probability of cure and lowest complication rates.
The Linac helps our patients fight cancerous diseases with fewer side effects.
Our radiation oncology unit provides radiation treatment for all types of cancer, including lung, breast, prostate, brain, gastrointestinal tract, uterus and skin. Patients diagnosed with malignancies or certain benign conditions where radiation therapy may be indicated, should be referred to Weiss’ Center for Radiation Oncology for consultation.
Weiss’ radiation oncology medical team consists of a board-certified radiation oncologist physician, two American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certified radiation therapists, a radiation oncology nurse, a medical physicist and a department secretary. Our staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always ready to meet our patients’ needs. Patient satisfaction questionnaires consistently reflect the high quality of care in the radiation oncology unit at Weiss. Learn more about radiation oncologist, Marina Kuznetsova, M.D., Ph.D.
Patients can make appointments with a radiation oncologist for consultation during regular clinic hours, Monday through Friday. Consultations help the patient make an informed decision about appropriate cancer treatment options. Second opinions also are available.
During the consultation, all pertinent medical records, pathology reports and imaging studies will be reviewed and the patient will be examined prior to a final treatment recommendation. Patients will also have the opportunity to ask questions about treatment options and radiation treatments in general. Side effects, treatment schedule and unexpected outcomes are discussed in depth. Literature about treatment and side effects is also provided. Consultations usually last an hour or longer. The radiation oncologist will send letters regarding the consultation to the referring physician and also may contact the physician to discuss the patient’s case.
Once a decision to offer radiation treatment has been made and the patient has agreed to begin therapy, a planning session—or simulation—is usually performed before therapy begins. This involves a scheduled appointment after the initial consultation, and can take one hour or longer. Simulation includes a short CT scan of the area of the cancer and skin marking. The images from this study are used for treatment planning and dose calculation. MRI and PET scan images may also be used for more accurate tumor delineation.
The treatment planning may take from several hours to several days depending on the complexity. When the plan is ready the patient will be invited for a second simulation, also called treatment plan verification. The patient will then undergo a “dry run” in the treatment room, to undergo scans producing a new set of verification pictures on Linac. Based on these images, the physician will perform a fine tuning of the plan. The treatment may be started only after a successful verification, usually the following day.
Patients should expect to be treated on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, and receive the same dosage every day. In an effort to minimize disruption to their daily routine, most patients are able to schedule radiation treatment times that are convenient for them. The treatments usually last about 15 to 20 minutes, are noninvasive and do not cause pain. We recommend that patients expect to be in the department a minimum of 30 minutes.
Most patients will receive treatment for several weeks; many often receive chemotherapy in addition to radiation therapy. If so, the radiation oncologist will work closely with the medical oncologist to schedule treatments in a timely fashion. A weekly visit with the doctor or medical team to discuss treatment provides an opportunity for the patient to ask questions, and for the doctor to document progress. We invite each patient’s support system to be involved in these weekly meetings—called the “on treatment visit”—with the radiation oncologist.
We recommend that patients who have received radiation therapy schedule regular follow-up visits with the radiation oncologist. The doctor provides each patient with a follow-up schedule; the first visit is usually three months after completing radiation therapy, and every three, six, or 12 months thereafter.
For more information call the Center for Radiation Oncology at (773) 564-5070.