Sep 13, 2017 9:00 AM

man laying on ct scanner with two techs standing by him

Updated October 2018

Sometimes knowing what to expect during a certain cancer treatment can make it less scary. This video describes what to expect before, during, and after stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS. SRS does not involve any incisions and is different than most procedures patients are used to. SRS uses special equipment to position a patient and send a large dose of radiation to a tumor. Watching this video may help you feel less anxious when facing your first SRS appointment.

Video Transcript

Welcome to Huntsman Cancer Institute's radiation oncology department. This video tells about stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS.

This treatment is not surgery in a traditional sense. The process requires no incisions. Radiosurgery uses special equipment to position a patient and send a large dose of radiation to a tumor. It is used to treat brain tumors and other brain disorders that cannot be treated by regular surgery. Radiosurgery targets the tumor precisely, so it shrinks the tumor without harming healthy tissue.

Radiosurgery starts with a simulation session. This is a planning session where your radiation oncologist and therapist decide exactly where the radiation beam will go. Your simulation appointment will be about one hour long.

When you first arrive, a member of our front desk team will show you where to put your personal things and where to wait for your radiation therapist. Your radiation therapist will take you to the treatment planning simulation room. She will explain the process and answer any questions you may have before she begins. Simulation involves a CT scan. This is different from any diagnostic imaging you may have already had.

First, the therapist will have you lie on the table of the CT scanner. She makes a facemask that is shaped just right for you. It is secured to the table so you stay still during planning and treatment. The mask makes sure you are in exactly the same position each time you come back for your radiation therapy. The therapist puts the plastic mesh mask in warm water to make it flexible. It will mold to your face and dry in a short amount of time. You may feel the mask tighten a bit as it is drying. Do your best to relax and not clench your jaw. This will help the mask dry in a comfortable shape. Be assured, you will be able to breathe normally the whole time.

Once you are positioned, the therapist will scan the area of your head to be treated. Your body position may need to be adjusted a bit. The scan takes just a couple of minutes. After the scan, you will wait on the table of the machine while the radiation oncology team reviews the images. Although you are in the room alone, the radiation therapist is watching closely, can hear you, and will check on you often. The therapist may also make marks on your facial mask, or take photos to make sure everything is in exact place for each treatment.

When your simulation session is over, the radiation therapist will take you back to the dressing room where you can get your things. She will give you a card for the next appointment. Your next appointment will be a dry run only. You won't receive any radiation. This dry run helps the physician and radiation therapist make sure the plan put together during your simulation will work well for you.

After the dry run, you get your treatment schedule. Treatments usually start one week after the simulation appointment. When you get your treatment schedule, the nurse will talk with you about what to expect during your radiation treatments. She will answer all your questions and will give you information to refer to as often as you need. She will also give you a number you can call whenever you have questions or concerns about your treatment.

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.

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