Radiation treatment planning

Before your radiation treatment begins, you will have a radiation treatment planning appointment. 

You will get a phone call with the date and time of this appointment. At your radiation treatment planning appointment:

  • A radiation therapist will talk with you about the planning procedure and will take you to a special type of machine called a CT simulator. 
  • A scan will be taken of the area(s) of your body to be treated. 
  • Your radiation therapist will take measurements for the detailed calculations needed for your treatment plan. Photos may need to be taken of your position and the treatment area(s).
  • Marks will be drawn on your skin with an ink marker. These marks will wash off, but permanent, tiny tattoo marks will be made in the same place. The tattoo marks are the size of a freckle. These tattoos help the therapists in your daily treatment setup.
  • If you need radiation therapy to the head or neck area, a special mask will be made. This mask will help you stay still during treatment and will be used for treatment setup. This mask will be worn every day for treatment.
  • The radiation treatment planning appointment usually takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete.

Once the images and measurements are complete, the radiation therapy team will design your treatment plan. Designing your treatment plan requires detail and can take several days to complete. You will be called with your treatment start date and time. Treatment usually starts about two weeks after your planning session.