Linear Accelerators in Radiation Oncology
This handout tells you about radiation treatment with a linear accelerator. These machines are more commonly referred to as “linacs”. This handout covers what will happen during your treatment. While reading this, mark any part you do not understand. Also, make a list of questions you may have. Bring this handout when you come for your treatment. Your radiation therapist or doctor will go over it with you.
The first treatment is a 30 to 45 minute visit. The treatments after are usually 15 minutes long. You will see your doctor once a week. The doctor will monitor your side effects and address any other concerns. In most cases, the visit with your doctor is after one of your treatments. You will not need to make a separate appointment to see your doctor each week. The therapist will set you up with that each time. You should plan on being in the clinic a little longer on those days.
What is a Linac?
A linac is a machine that is designed to deliver high-energy x-rays to treat certain diseases, most commonly cancer. The machine can rotate around you while you are on the treatment table.
What happens during a treatment visit?
Please arrive for your treatment in Radiation Oncology at the time you were given. Be sure to check in with the staff so we know you are here. ? You will be called into the room, and the therapist will explain the process in detail.
- You may be asked to remove some clothing or personal items during the treatment.
- The table will move up and in towards the treatment machine. There are positioning lasers in the treatment room that the therapists will use to align you on the table. This is to put you in the correct treatment position. The therapists will use the tattoos or marks that you were given at the CT to line you up.
- On the first day of treatment the therapists will use an imager built into the machine to take x-rays. These x-rays will confirm that you are in the correct position for treatment. Therapists may make adjustments to your position before starting treatment. The first day will take longer because the therapists will have to take those images.
- After the first day, the treatment itself will just take a few minutes, but you may be here for about 15 minutes total for set-up and treatment.
- When the treatment is finished, the therapists will come into the room and help you off the table.
- 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 machine. The therapists will 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.
- Side effects of treatment depend on what part of your body is treated. Your doctor will discuss these with you.
- Treatments are given Monday-Friday. If you need to reach the staff you may call you treatment machine Monday through Friday between 8:00 and 4:00.
- Linac 2: (608) 263-8523
- Room A: (608) 263-8503
- East Clinic: (608) 265-4357
- On your last day of treatment, you will meet with your doctor. A follow-up visit will be made at this time.
- 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 oncology doctor on call. Give your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 06/27/2011
Copyright © 06/27/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7229
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