Planning your treatment
Before radiotherapy treatment can begin, it is important that it has been carefully planned out.
The staff of the radiotherapy department can explain the process to you. You will have scans of the area to be treated. This helps the radiotherapy team decide on the exact dose of radiotherapy and the area of treatment.
Other things may be performed as part of the planning process. During radiotherapy, you must keep still and remain in a particular position. So you may have to wear a mold or mask on the part of your body that is being treated to help keep you still. This must be done before the treatment begins.
A small, permanent mark (tattoo) may be made on the skin to show the exact spot where the radiotherapy is to be directed.
Let your radiologists know if you are worried about any part of the radiotherapy process. It is important that you are involved and feel comfortable to ask questions at any time.
Your radiotherapy treatment will be given in a radiotherapy department. Not all hospitals have one of these departments. This is because radiotherapy machines are very complex and the treatment must be planned out and delivered by specially trained staff.
Most radiotherapy departments are located in large regional and teaching hospitals. You may have your initial cancer treatment, such as surgery, at your local hospital and then be referred to the nearest specialist hospital for radiotherapy.
It is common for patients to have external radiotherapy as an outpatient, though if you are ill or have chemotherapy at the same time, you may need to stay in the hospital. In this case, you will go to the radiotherapy department every day. If you are having internal radiotherapy, you may have to stay in the hospital for a few days.