BMC’s Yawkey building doors are now closed as an entrance as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance our campus and provide you with the best clinical care.

All patients and visitors on our main campus must enter our hospital via Shapiro, Menino, or Moakley buildings, where they will be greeted by team members at a new centralized check-in desk before continuing to the hospital. We are excited to welcome you and appreciate your patience as we improve our facilities.

Recognized for Excellence

We are pleased to announce that Boston Medical Center has been accredited by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) through APEx - Accreditation Program for Excellence®. APEx is an accreditation program developed by ASTRO that validates a radiation oncology facility’s excellence in delivering high-quality patient care.

What is radiation oncology?

Radiation oncology is a branch of oncology that treats cancers using radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy X-rays and other particles to destroy cancer cells.  

Radiation can be used alone as a treatment for cancer, but is often used with other treatments. For example, it may be used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor or with chemotherapy to improve the chance that it will work.

What conditions do radiation oncologists treat?

Radiation oncologists can treat many types of cancer. Whether radiation is the right treatment depends on factors such as the type of cancer, the size of the tumor, your general health, and the tumor’s location in your body.

The cancers that most commonly need radiation therapy include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Eye cancers
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sarcomas  
  • Thyroid cancer

What services does radiation oncology offer?

  • Radiation therapy for cancer
  • Radiation therapy for benign tumors

What should I expect during my first visit?

Your first step is a consultation with a radiation oncologist who will become part of your care team.

When you get to our Cancer Center, a nurse will ask you for your medical history and list of current medications. Then your radiation oncologist will ask more questions and review your medical records, test results, and scans. They may also perform a physical exam.  

Your radiation oncologist will go over your treatment options in detail, including their side effects. Together, you’ll decide on the best option for your situation.

It’s a good idea to bring a family member or other loved one to your consultation. You and your loved one should come prepared with questions, as well as ask any new questions that come up.

At the consultation, you’ll schedule your treatment planning session (also known as simulation). You'll also get additional information and instructions to take home.

What should I expect as I continue to receive care?

Simulation 

The next step after a consultation, is a treatment planning session, also known as simulation.  

During simulation, your doctor and radiation therapist work together to plan your treatment. The therapist will position you on the treatment table and create custom devices that will help you keep the exact some position during each treatment session. These devices will also help you stay as still as possible during treatment, so your cancer can be precisely targeted.

Your doctor may draw marks on your skin to outline the treatment area. They will also put small permanent tattoos under your skin to use as reference points during your treatment.

They may also take x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, or other scans to help plan your treatment.

Your radiation team will then work together to design your personalized treatment plan. This usually takes one to two weeks.

First Day/Block Verification 

Your first treatment will usually take a little longer than your regular daily treatments. During this time, you’ll meet your radiation therapists. They will also take x-rays to make sure that they are exactly following what was planned during simulation. Your radiation oncologist may also come to make minor adjustments to the treatment setup if necessary.  

Daily Treatments 

Radiation treatment will take place daily for the time period your doctor recommends. Once a week, after your treatment and usually on the same day each week, you’ll meet with your radiation oncologist.

They’ll address any questions or concerns you have, as well as provide advice if you’re experiencing any side effects.

Follow Up 

When your treatment course is done, your radiation oncologist will continue to follow up with you. You’ll see them two weeks to one month after finishing treatment.  

Future follow-up visits will be scheduled every three to six months and may include routine scans. It is very important to continue with follow-up appointments.

During these visits, your doctor will monitor any side effects you had, as well as any other changes you’re experiencing post-treatment.

Your radiation oncologist will also continue to work with your medical oncologist and/or primary care physician. Together, this care team will help make sure you stay healthy.