What To Expect
As a non-invasive treatment, proton therapy allows patients to remain relatively active during and after their treatment. Patients at Provision are encouraged to use the wellness facility on our campus, take advantage of Knoxville’s recreational opportunities and explore beautiful East Tennessee.
As a patient, the first thing that you can expect is a request for your medical records. This is the only way we can review your case and offer the best choices for your healthcare needs. Once we have your records, they will be evaluated by our medical director and medical team to determine if more tests are needed and what imaging may be required.
While we are gathering and reviewing the clinical information, we have a team of individuals solely dedicated to making the process as convenient and efficient as possible. This includes a financial team that helps you determine your treatment coverage and a Hospitality team to assist with housing, transportation and other needs during treatment. For our international patients, we work with trusted partners who can help patients travel abroad, ensuring a smooth flow of communication and prompt attention to your unique medical concerns. Our hospitality team serves as a comprehensive resource for patients and families and has community relationships that serve the needs of U.S. or international patients through customized travel and accommodation packages.
After you have been scheduled for a consult, the care coordinator will send paperwork to be completed prior to your consult. For U.S. patients, this consult will be conducted in person at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. International patients will travel to Knoxville two weeks prior to the start of treatment in order to incorporate the initial consultation into their trip. When you come in for a consult with your doctor you will be met by our financial and hospitality teams with whom you have already spoken on the phone. Your care coordinator will arrange the services you require during the visit.
On the day of consult, you should plan to arrive a few minutes early in order to get checked in. The hospitality coordinator at the front desk will then guide you for your visit. You will meet first with the nurse who will do a standard physical assessment.
Then, you will have as much time as you need with a doctor to perform a physical exam and then discuss with you the various options for moving forward. Family members and significant others are welcome to come for the consult. After the consult, someone from the Provision team will give you a tour of the center and introduce you to other members of the team who would be involved in your care. If you have a one on one meeting scheduled with the hospitality or financial services, you will meet with them immediately following your consult.
After your consult, the next step is to get scheduled for treatment. There is a series of appointments that include an MRI, placement of fiducial markers, and a treatment planning CT. For U.S. patients, these appointments can be scheduled on the same day or on separate days depending upon patient needs. For your convenience, we can schedule these appointments after your consult before you leave the center. We conveniently provide all of these services on our campus. For international patients, these tests will be scheduled along with your initial consult prior to your arrival at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy, with ample time prior to your treatment start date. After your imaging appointments, the doctor and dosimetrist will work on a treatment plan specifically for your care. This usually takes around 3 – 5 business days. As you are completing the CT appointment, the therapist assisting you with the CT will let you know your approximate treatment start date and time. The therapist will also call you 24 hours in advance with the exact start date and time. For international patients, these appointments will be managed by your care coordinator, who will guide you through the entire process. Your first treatment appointment will occur on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
From here, the treatment begins. Daily treatments range anywhere from 15 – 45 minutes (prostate treatments take 15 to 20 minutes, and pediatric treatments can take longer than 45 minutes if sedation is required) and will continue for 4-8 weeks, depending on your treatment schedule. The therapist will walk through the daily process of treatment and answer any questions you have when they call you to schedule your first treatment appointment.
Upon discharge, your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment for you to return. We ask our international patients to remain in town for an additional week following treatment for follow-up and evaluation before final discharge and release to travel home. Our international patients’ physicians are kept informed of your treatment status and become an extension of your care team, as they will be provide care for you when you return home. For all our patients, we advise continued follow-up with your specialist and/or primary care physician.