Commonly used radiation therapy terms and their definitions include:
Imaging: We use imaging such as X-rays and CT, MRI, and PET scans to produce images of the cancer site while you are lying in your treatment position. This imaging helps us plan your series of treatments to precisely target the cancer during radiation treatment.
Immobilization: Based on the cancer’s location, our radiation therapists work with you at your first appointment to find the right position for treatment. We then use an immobilization device to help keep your body still during your series of radiation treatments.
Immobilization device: Our radiation therapists find the right mold, cradle, or cushion during simulation, your first appointment for planning before your treatment begins. These devices are custom made or off the shelf. They place you in the best position for treatment and ensure that your body remains still.
Intravenous (IV) catheter: For imaging that requires contrast dye, you may need to have an IV catheter placed in your vein. We use this very narrow tube to deliver the dye and any other necessary fluids into your bloodstream.
IV contrast: A special dye can highlight different parts of your anatomy on certain scans. The contrast is injected into your bloodstream and remains there temporarily.
Linear accelerator (linac): We use this machine for external beam radiation therapy. A linear accelerator delivers prescribed doses of radiation to the body from outside the body. We can shape the radiation beams to conform to the size and shape of the tumor, minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue.
Positioning: During your simulation visit, you lie down comfortably on the treatment table of the radiation machine. Our radiation therapists take notes on your exact measurements and placement. That helps us position you comfortably as you are lying still for your treatments.
Simulation: After you meet with your radiation oncologist, you come in for your simulation visit. During this appointment, our radiation therapists plan your upcoming treatments by positioning you, preparing the immobilization device, and taking imaging of the cancer site.
X-rays: A type of imaging that uses very small doses of radiation to produce images of the body’s internal structures. X-rays can also be used for cancer treatment in radiation therapy.
Published April 2018
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