Planning Appointment

This section deals with the planning of patient treatment before radiotherapy begins. Click on one of the links below for more information:


Consent 

Radiotherapy treatment is tailored to the needs of each patient. Planning treatment has a number of steps and therefore can take some time. 

Before a patient commences radiotherapy they will be given an appointment with a doctor. The doctor will explain:

  • The planning process
  • Treatment
  • Possible side effects from the treatment

Doctors will not advise patients to have any treatment unless the benefits of the treatment are greater than the known risks. If a patient is to proceed with treatment they must provide their consent.

Find out more about the consent process.

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.

More information (source Public Health England) 


Planning

This is usually your first appointment with us and during it the doctor will ask you to sign a consent form.

In doing this you are confirming that you have been given information about radiotherapy, including its risks and benefits, and that you have given permission for your radiotherapy treatment to go ahead.

For the planning process patients may need to remove some items of clothing depending on the area of the body being treated.

Every effort will be made to respect patient privacy and they will be covered up as much as possible.

It may take up to two hours and will involve one or all of the following:

  • Mould Room 

If you are having an area around your head or neck treated, a special mould will be made in the Mould Room for you to wear during your planning and treatment appointments. It is not always easy to keep your head still, even for a short time. The mould will keep your head still and in the same position during your treatment each day.

As part of the preparation for the mould you may need to attend the hospital several times before your treatment can start. Ideally facial hair should be removed before attending the mould room.
The mould room staff will explain everything to you.

 

  • CT Simulator 

This machine is very similar to a CT scanner; it is specifically designed for planning radiotherapy treatment. If you need any special preparation for this appointment you will be advised before you attend.

We may need to give you an oral or injected contrast (dye). This will help us to see the area we want to treat more clearly. You will be advised if we need to do this. The pictures from the scan will be used to produce an individual plan of your treatment.

 

During the planning session the radiographers will draw some marks on your skin with a pen. Permanent marks, like tiny black freckles, will also need to be made. These will help the radiographers set you up in the correct position for treatment every day. If you wear a special mould for your treatment, the marks will be drawn onto this, instead of your skin, before your scan.

There will be no results from this scan as it is only used to plan your radiotherapy.

  • Simulator

The Simulator is a large x-ray machine similar to the treatment machines. You will lie in the position we need you to be in for treatment. The radiographers will take some x-rays to check that your treatment position is exactly as your doctor has planned.

What happens next?

After your planning appointment your doctor, with the help of the radiographers and physics team, may spend a number of weeks designing your radiotherapy treatment.

In most cases you will be contacted at a later date, by telephone or letter, with details of your first radiotherapy treatment appointment. You will be given a list of further appointments on your first day of treatment.

General Advice:

• Look after yourself really well

• Eat well and drink lots of fluids, as advised by your treatment team

• Care for the treated area as advised

• Do not remove the skin marks defining your treatment area unless advised to do so by the radiographers

• Talk to us if you are worried or concerned about anything

• Do not compare your treatment with others – it has been tailored to suit you

• Do not compare side effects with others – remember your treatment may not be the same and everyone reacts differently.