When a patient chooses radiation therapy, the first step is to have a CT simulation. The patient will go to a room where the CT simulator is located and a mold is made for the feet to minimize movement during the procedure for a better image. Also, as we do the scan, we are actually mapping and identifying the target area, whether it is the prostate or the prostate bit if they had a prostatectomy. At that point, when we identify the target area that we want to treat, we will make three small marks using lasers that are mounted on the wall. When we look at the patient from an exterior perspective we can see from those marks where the prostate is located. The patient will come back about one week later for the actual treatment.
During that week, the physician and the physicist will carefully examine each slide of the scan to identify the areas in the pelvis that will receive radiation, including the prostate and the organs and tissues around the prostate. Then we map those out, re-contour those organs and tissues, and identify how much or how little dose we want those organs and tissues to receive. After that, we enter the data into the treatment planning computer and the computer determines how to deliver the treatment, the dose or amount of treatment that we want to give to the target, and necessary adjustments of dosage to the other surrounding tissues.