Suddenly statistics are important

Yesterday I saw the clinical oncologist. This is the chap who will be in charge of my radiotherapy, and if necessary any post-operative chemotherapy. I really liked him. He was very approachable and open, and talked to me at my level, rather than trying to over-simplify, or using overly complex medical terms. Turns out that the chance of localised re-occurrence of the cancer is normally 15%. By having the radiotherapy before surgery the national statistics for re-occurrence drop to about 5%. However, “my” hospital is running at less than 1% chance of a localised re-occurrence of the cancer. I’ll take that deal 🙂

The radiotherapy sounds really interesting. It consists of a series of stages. First is the planning session. At this they lay a series of thin wires across me, in positions determined by some lasers attached to the CT scanner. They then take another CT scan (this time without contrast agents!) to produce a high resolution scan of my pelvis, overlaid by the wires. Then they tattoo a series of reference marks onto me where the wires were, so they can consistently orient me in the machines, using just the lasers. Then they use the CT scan results to create a 3D computer model of my cancer. From that model a computer calculates how to position me, aim the radiation source and what power to use, to deliver the optimum dose of radiation to the tumour, while limiting the dose to any surrounding tissues. Then I have a simulation run, where I get put into another machine which does a “dry run” to make sure that what they calculated in the computers will actually work in practice. If all is well, I then get my weeks radiotherapy sessions in a linear accelerator.

The surgery then takes place the week after that.

The planning session will take place on Tuesday. I asked if I could have some nice celtic design tattoos, but apparently they are just simple dots. Oh well. Maybe I’ll do something mad when I’m cured.

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