Treatment is done 5 days a week, Monday thru Friday. 45 treatments will therefore take 9 weeks of treatment, roughly 2 months.
If any days are missed due to bad weather, holidays, or machine maintenance, then these treatments are tacked onto the end and the total treatment course will be a little longer.
Each day you will be in the department for 20 minutes or so. Some of this time is spent getting you set upon the treatment table, and making sure you are lined up perfectly. The radiation beam is only on for a few minutes.
Your treatment will take the same length of time every day. It does not get longer or shorter as the weeks go on.
Many people wonder if the length of time the radiation beam is turned on will vary from person to person. Yes, it does. The radiation oncologist prescribes a standard dosage of radiation (in centiGray) but the planning computer determines the strength and size of each radiation beam and how long it is on for, in order to deliver the prescribed dosage of radiation into the prostate gland. Even if we prescribe the exact same dose for each person, the amount of time the beam is on will vary from patient to patient. For instance, if a patient is very skinny then the beam will be absorbed by less tissue as it passes through the body to reach the prostate gland, so the beam may be on a little shorter. In addition if we use a “higher resolution” treatment, i.e. with smaller radiation beams, it will take longer to put all the radiation into the prostate gland, so the beam will be on longer. In a spiral treatment like Tomotherapy, the beam has to spin more times around the body to treat a longer prostate gland.
When you come in for your mapping appointment, the therapist will talk to you about what a good time of day is for your daily treatment. They will give you a “treatment slot”, an appointment time that you will come in at on the same time every day for your treatment. Usually treatments run on time. If you discover that on a certain day you cannot come at that time, or if you need to change your treatment slot, just talk with the therapists and they can usually take care of your request.
Treatment times will typically run during the business day, 8:00 – 5:00, but can run earlier or later depending on how many patients are being treated.
Q) Will the treatments increase in intensity as I go along?
A) No. The treatments are the same each day, except in rare cases where we completely redesign the radiation plan at some point during treatment.
Q) Is there a certain time of day I come in each day for treatment?
A) Yes. You will have a daily treatment slot appointment time.
Q) Can I move my treatment? Can I come in late on a Monday or early on a Friday? Suppose I have another appointment elsewhere?
A) Talk with the therapists and they will try to find an available treatment time for you to come on that day.