Frequently Asked Questions and Tomotherapy in Radiation Oncology
We understand that radiation therapy can be
confusing or overwhelming. This handout
contains a list of questions that many
patients have asked in the past. We hope
this information will help you understand
what will happen during your treatment.
When will I get the results of my CT scan
The CT scan that you had today was for
treatment planning only. Doctors or
therapists will not be able to use this scan to
see changes in your tumor.
When will my first radiation therapy
treatment appointment be?
After your CT scan, your treatment plan will
be made. You do not have to be present for
the planning session. The radiation therapist
from your treatment machine will call you in
a week or two to set up your first treatment.
The therapists will try their best to work
with your scheduling needs.
How will I know where my treatment will
The therapist who calls you will tell you
which machine will be used for your
treatment. You will be given directions to
Where do I check-in?
When you start coming in for treatments,
you will not need to check-in at the main
registration desk. You may come straight
down to radiation oncology and check-in at
your treatment machine with a radiation
When will I see my doctor or nurse?
During treatment, your doctor and nurse will
see you on a regular basis. They will follow
your progress, assess any side effects, and
address any concerns you may have. You
will see your doctor once weekly. Of
course, concerns may come up on days that
you will not see your doctor. If this
happens, please let your therapists know.
They can answer your questions or refer you
to someone else who may help you.
Can I feel the radiation?
You will not feel the radiation. You can
hear the machine turn on and make a
Who else will be a part of my treatment
● Radiation Therapists work with
doctors to give the daily treatment. They
are under the doctor’s prescription and
supervision. They maintain daily
records. They regularly check the
treatment machines to make sure they
are working properly.
● Dosimetrists carefully calculate the dose
of radiation to make sure the tumor gets
enough radiation. Using computers, they
work with the doctor and the medical
physicist to create a treatment plan.
● Medical Physicists work directly with
the doctor during treatment planning and
delivery. They direct the work of the
dosimetrists. They help ensure that
treatments are proper for each patient.
Will radiation make me sick?
You may have side effects from your
radiation treatment. The side effects are
based on the area of your body treated. For
example, patients being treated to their
abdomen or pelvis may feel nauseous. Ask
your therapists what side effects you may
have. Feeling tired during radiation
treatment is a common side effect that many
patients have. Skin reactions from the
radiation are also common. You will
receive more information once you begin
Will I lose my hair?
If you are being treated to your head or any
part of the body covered with hair, there is a
chance that you could lose your hair in that
area. Based on the dose of radiation that
you receive, hair loss can be permanent or
When will I see side effects from the
As a rule, about 2 weeks after the start of
your treatment side effects may begin. Your
therapist will provide you with information
once you start treatment.
Will I be radioactive?
No. The only time there is radiation is when
the machine is turned on. You are safe to be
around others because you are not giving off
What happens if I can’t make it to one of
my radiation therapy treatments?
Please call the treatment machine on which
you are being treated. Speak with a
therapist. It is advised that you do not miss
any of your treatments. If you do need to
cancel an appointment, another day will be
added on to your treatment schedule to make
up for the missed day.
How can I contact my doctor before I
start treatment or in-between treatments?
You may call our department at (608) 263-
8500 to speak with your doctor or a nurse.
. The treatments are typically about 30
minutes. You will see your doctor once a
week. In most cases the visit with your
doctor is after one of your treatments. You
should plan on being in the clinic a little
longer on those days. (move to “what
happens during a treatment visit”)
What is Tomo-Therapy®?
It is a method of giving radiation treatment
to a patient in a manner similar to a CT scan.
The Tomo-Therapy® machine is a
combination treatment machine and a CT
scanner. The daily CT confirms the precise,
size, shape, and location of your tumor
before the treatment is given.
What happens during a treatment visit?
Please arrive at the Tomo-Therapy® unit in
Radiation Oncology at the time you were
given. Be sure to check in with the
Radiation Oncology reception staff so we
know you are here.
You will be called into the room, and the
therapist will explain the process in detail.
ξ You may be asked to remove some
clothing or personal items for the
ξ You will be placed on the treatment
table. The therapist(s) may need to
adjust your position on the table by
moving parts of your body.
ξ The table will move into the opening
of the machine. The therapists will
leave the room and perform a CT
scan. The therapists are able to see
and hear you even when they are not
in the room.
ξ At the end of the CT, the table will
move out of the opening. It takes
about 5 minutes for the therapists
and doctors to review the CT and
confirm the treatment field. It is
very important for you to hold still.
ξ The therapists will then make the
needed adjustments, and put the table
into the scanner for treatment.
ξ The treatment itself will usually take
5 to15 minutes. You will be in the
room about 25-30 minutes.
ξ When the treatment is finished, the
therapists will come into the room
and help you off the table.
ξ There is no pain or discomfort with
treatments. You will not see, feel, or
hear the radiation. You will hear
some background noise from the
tomotherapy machine. If it bothers
you, ear plugs are available. We
watch you with TV cameras and
microphones at all times. If at any
time you need something, wave your
hand or call out loudly. The
therapist will stop the machine right
away and come into the room.
ξ Side effects of treatment depend on
what part of your body is treated.
Your doctor will discuss these with
ξ Treatments are given Monday-
Friday. If you need to reach the staff
you may call your Tomo-Therapy®
unit Monday through Friday between
8:00 and 4:00.
o Treatment Room B:
o Treatment Room C:
During your last week of treatment, you
doctor will let you know if you need to make
any follow-up visits.
ξ If you have any questions or
problems once you are home, call the
Radiation Oncology Clinic at (608)
263-8500. If the clinic is closed, the
hospital answering service will pick
up the call. Ask for the radiation
oncologist on call. Give your name
and phone number with the area
code. The doctor will call you back.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 10/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7230