Simulation for Radiation Therapy

Last Modified: June 8, 2012


What is "simulation" for radiation therapy mean? Is it painful? How long with this take?


Alexander Lin, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

Simulation is simply the acquisition of a scan (such as a CT scan or PET/CT scan). These images are used by your radiation oncologist to identify areas which need to be radiated, and tissues that need to be protected. A customized mask will be made at the time of simulation to conform to the shape of the face and neck, to ensure daily accuracy. The time spent on the scanner for simulation typically lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN OncoLink Nurse Educator at Penn Medicine, responds:

April 22nd-28th is oral, head and neck cancer awareness week. Many organizations hold free screenings for the public during April. If you'd like to find one near you, check this site: Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Head and Neck Cancer Q&A Webchat transcript.


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