What is Radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is the use of exact, carefully measured doses of high energy x-rays and other types of radiation, to treat cancer. The radiation does not stay in your body and it is perfectly safe for you to mix with children and adults.

Radiotherapy treatment is painless and should take between 10 and 20 minutes. It is similar to having an x-ray taken.

Radiotherapy can cure some cancers and can also reduce the chance of a cancer coming back after surgery. It may also be used to control a cancer or to help improve the symptoms of it.

There are two types of radiotherapy:

• External Beam – given outside the body
• Brachytherapy – given inside the body

Your doctor will discuss these with you, as appropriate, and decide which type will be most suitable for you.

If you have health problems, for example, diabetes, arthritis, or heart trouble, radiotherapy should not affect them in any way. However, if you think you may be pregnant, or if you have a pacemaker fitted, please tell the doctor or radiographer before they take any x-rays. If you are worried about any other illness or have any other concerns, please ask us.

Women between 12 and 55 years of age will be asked to confirm that they are not pregnant and the importance of not becoming pregnant while on treatment will be explained to them. This may seem an insensitive question to ask at this time, however, it is required by current legislation and is in place to protect the unborn child as the procedures used during diagnosis, planning and treatment require the use of radiation which can cause harm to the unborn baby.

Careful planning of your individual radiotherapy treatment reduces the dose received by the surrounding healthy tissue, other nearby organs and the risk of possible side effects from the treatment.

During your attendance for radiotherapy you will also have to see the doctor and/or Review Radiographer and may require other examinations, for example blood tests or x-rays to monitor your progress. Please allow some extra waiting time. Due to occasional machine maintenance and quality assurance it is not always possible to keep to a strict appointment system and delays may occur.

The treatment area and number of treatments depends on:

• Your specific type of cancer and its position in your body
• Any other treatment you have had.

Treatment is not routinely given on Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes your doctor may make changes to your treatment plan as the treatment goes on. This is normal and your doctor or radiographer will discuss this with you.