Visiting the Cancer Center

Published On 07/11/2011

Patients to be treated on an outpatient basis register at the Outpatient Registration desk on the first floor of the Thomas Wing or in the Radiation Oncology department at the registration desk.

When arriving in the Radiation Oncology department for the first time, the patient checks in with the receptionist. The patient is given a card that is scanned upon arrival for each treatment. After scanning in, patients remain in the waiting area until being called for a treatment. Wait times are kept as short as possible and rarely exceed thirty minutes. 

To prevent congestion in the treatment areas, patients are requested to have only one family member, when necessary, assist them to the treatment area. Patients are asked to arrive no more than fifteen minutes prior to scheduled treatment times due to limited space in the waiting area.

Simple Facts and Helpful Hints about Radiation treatment:

  • Radiation treatments are painless.
  • External radiation treatment does not make a patient radioactive.
  • Patients should allow 30 minutes for each radiation appointment, although the treatment itself should only last a few minutes.
  • Skin in and around the area may become sensitive and easily irritated.
  • Side effects of radiation treatment are usually temporary and vary depending on the area of the body that is treated.
  • It is important to get plenty of rest and eat a well-balanced diet during the course of radiation therapy.


The first step in Radiation treatment is a process known as simulation. During this time your doctor will determine the optimum plan of treatment, which includes determining how best to protect a patient's normal tissue. Using a device called a Simulator, X-ray images are made of the area to be treated. Marks are drawn on the skin to indicate the exact area to radiate. Using CT scans, a 3-dimensional image of the patient's anatomy is produced, and computers calculate exactly how radiation will be distributed in and around the tumor area. When finished, the doctor will have a detailed picture of how the radiation will interact with the cancer and a precise record of the radiation dose to the tumor.

While this simulation process may take several hours to complete, subsequent visits for the actual treatments usually last only thirty minutes. Treatments are spread over a period of time. During treatments, normal tissue is shielded as much as possible while radiation is aimed at the site. To ensure maximum precision, radiation measurements, X-rays, and computers are used to record and verify treatment progress. Patients can expect to see a physician at least once a week after treatment begins.

Overnight Guest Rooms

For the convenience of our patients and their families, Methodist University Hospital Cancer Center has designated six guest rooms for overnight stays. Located on the 3rd floor of the Crews Wing, each room is available for the nominal charge of $20 and is furnished with linens, television with VCR and DVD, refrigerator, phone, security system and private bath and complimentary cleaning services.

For more information or to reserve a room, call 901.516.8677.


Free parking is provided for outpatients receiving radiation therapy. Patients may park in the Union Centre Building Garage at the corner of Union and Claybrook. Designated spaces are reserved for Radiation Oncology patients on the third floor of the garage. Patients will be given instructions by the Radiation Oncology staff. Those who need wheelchairs may come to the main entrance of the hospital, which is on Eastmoreland. Escorts are just inside the main entrance; they will provide a wheelchair escort to the Radiation Oncology department.

The Radiation Oncology department is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Treatments normally are not given on Saturday or Sunday.

For more information, please call the Department of Radiation Oncology at 901.516.7367.