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How We Treat Cancer

As a patient coming to Phoebe for radiation treatment, the first thing you'll see is a smiling face to greet you at the reception desk. Everything you'll see and experience here is intended to relieve the stress and anxiety created by cancer.

On the first visit, we'll ask you to fill out a short patient information sheet. While you're filling out the sheet, take time to go into our coffee room and help yourself to a compli-
mentary cup of coffee or maybe grab a soft drink.

Once you're checked in, the nurses will take you into a patient room where Dr. Mendenhall will visit with you. The doctor will review your medical records and films to determine if radiation is a viable option for treatment. After the doctor has done his evaluation, a course of treatment is planned according to the type of cancer involved.

The treatment planning is divided into three parts:

1. Simulation: Once a date has been set, you will come in and be X-rayed to determine the area to be treated. This is done on a simulation unit or a CT scanner that uses computers to simulate the movements of our treatment machines. For all general purposes this is a normal type of X-ray that you might receive to check for a possible broken bone. The doctor will then mark the X-ray film for the physicist to use in his treatment planning. But, before we let you off the table, we will take an indelible pen and mark directly on your skin the area to be treated, with the instructions: "Please don't wash these off." The doctor will then give the X-rays to our physics department and specify the amount of radiation needed for the tumor.

2. Treatment Planning: The treatment planning done by our doctors, physicist and dosimetrist takes into account where the tumor(s) may lie and gives the best direction from which radiation can access the tumor. This is determined by using state-of-the-art planning computers.

3. Doctor Review: The doctors then read the treatment plans and decide if that would be the correct approach. If the plan does not meet with the doctors' approval, then step two is redone. If the plan is approved, treatment is ready to begin.

After the planning stage has been completed you will be given an appointment time to come into our department and be treated with radiation.
The radiation accelerator can be a little intimidating at first, but it's really nothing more than a big lens that precisely focuses a radiation beam on the target: cancerous cells.
What will you feel? Absolutely nothing. There is no sensation at all during the actual treatment, which only lasts about 60 seconds - the rest is simply setup time.
In the treatment room, you'll lie on the table while our therapists place you in the exact position that you were in during simulation. Once the therapists have you settled in the correct position they will leave the room (for the same reason a nurse or technologist leaves the room during an X-ray) and go to their operating console. There they will program the amount of radiation to be delivered as prescribed by the doctors.
Once the initial treatment is complete you might be seen by our dietitian. Our dietitian will monitor your weight throughout the radiation treatment. This is to help make sure that you eat and drink properly to stay healthy during the next few weeks of treatment.
The doctors will usually see you once a week, but, if at any time during your treatments you feel the need to see one of our doctors, just ask any of our therapists, dietitian, nurses or receptionists, and they will make sure that a doctor visits you.
To contact us you may call 229-312-2260 or toll free at 800-490-0684.