On your fourth visit, treatment will begin. During your treatments, you will be cared for by your radiation therapist. Using the marks that have already been made on your skin, the therapist will carefully position you on the treatment table beneath the machine. If a mold was made, the mold or sometimes tape will be used to help you hold still. Remaining still during treatments ensures that the proper area is treated.
The treatment machines are large and can be intimidating when you first encounter them. They can make noises similar to a vacuum cleaner and during your treatment they move up and down and around you so that radiation can be directed at the tumor from different angles.
It is normal to be a bit anxious during your first few treatments, but you will become accustomed to the machines in a short period of time. Rest assured that the machines are checked regularly by the radiation physics staff to ensure proper operation.
During treatment, your radiation therapist will be in another room monitoring you on a close-circuit TV screen. You will be able to talk to each other via an intercom. Even though you may feel alone, remind yourself that your treatment is constantly being checked.
The treatment period usually takes a very short time—a few minutes at most. Often, the waiting and preparation take longer than the treatment.
Once a week, a doctor and nurse will check in to see how you're feeling. Tests may be ordered, if you are having specific problems. Since therapy can affect rapidly dividing normal cells in the area being treated, you may have some complaints about side effects that will require special tests.