what to expect

Steps in the Radiation Treatment Process

  • Consultation - Consult with your radiation oncologist and radiation therapy nurse (1 1/2 to 2 hours)
  • Simulation—may be scheduled per physician’s order (1 hour)
  • Radiation therapy (4 to 8 weeks, each session lasting 15-30 minutes)



Once referred to Riverwest by your physician, your first step is to make an appointment for a consultation. This is when you meet with a radiation oncologist to determine if radiation therapy is right for you. A radiation oncologist is a physician who has special training in using radiation to treat diseases. The consultation lasts 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This gives the radiation oncologist time to review your records and examine you. You and your doctor will then discuss possible treatment options, along with the risks and benefits of radiation therapy.

At the consultation, you will also meet with a radiation therapy nurse. She will go over the treatment process with you, including how treatments are scheduled, side effects, and self-care during and after treatment. This is a good time to ask any questions you might have about radiation therapy.

CT Simulation

After you and your physician have decided a course of radiation therapy can benefit you, your next step will be to make an appointment for a simulation. (You may decide to schedule the consultation and simulation for the same day.) Simulation lasts 1 hour. Please check with our staff for any food or drink restrictions.

For simulation, you will be scanned by computed tomography (CT) scanner, a special planning x-ray machine. This x-ray allows us to pinpoint the location of the treatment area on your body. An immobilization device, such as a face mask or vac-lok may be formed at this time to ensure you are in the same position daily for your treatment.

Tattoos and ink markings will also be applied on your skin. These markings assist the radiation therapist to target your treatment area at each treatment session. Therefore, you will want to keep the marks on throughout the entire 4-8 week process. Additionally, a CT scan or MRI may be done to further outline the treatment area.

The information obtained from the simulation along with the CT scan/MRI, will be used by the dosimetrist and physician to plan your radiation treatment. Once the treatment plan is completed, you will return to the Center to have the treatment plan verified. This may be done on the Simulator or actual treatment machine.


Following the simulation appointment, you will be scheduled for radiation treatments. Therapy is given daily Monday through Friday and lasts an average of 4 to 8 weeks. The number of treatments varies person to person, and will be determined as part of your treatment planning. Each treatment takes between 15 and 30 minutes.

Many times people receiving radiation therapy will come to the Radiation Therapy Center daily, Monday through Friday, for 15 to 30 minute treatments. This may last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks depending on your treatment plan.

Side Effects

Some side effects become apparent during the course of treatment. Others, because of the cumulative nature of radiation, may not appear until after treatments have finished. Patients do not become radioactive as a result of external radiation therapy.

After the completion of therapy, you will be scheduled for follow-up visits at the clinic, frequently at first and then yearly after that, depending on your needs. Additional diagnostic tests may be prescribed to evaluate your therapy's effectiveness.

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Oncology Hospital


1221 N Highland Ave
Aurora, IL 60506-1404
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Radiation Therapy Effects