Radiation Therapy Treatment
- Following referral from your GP or specialist, you will have an appointment with one of our Radiation Oncologists. The majority of our patients attend as outpatients – this initial consultation will be held in the Medical Centre. If you are admitted to hospital, the Radiation Oncologist will see you on the ward.
- The Radiation Oncologist will discuss treatment options with you. If you decide to proceed with radiation therapy you will be asked to sign a consent form. An appointment to attend for CT simulation will be made and you will be notified of this appointment by telephone, usually within two working days of your initial appointment.
- CT simulation occurs in our department on a CT scanner. The CT scan is used by the Radiation Oncologist to accurately identify the region of your body that requires treatment. If any preparation for the scan is required this will be discussed with you when you receive your appointment. Radiation Therapists will position you on the bed and reference marks and measurements will be made so that your position can be accurately reproduced for each of your treatment visits. You will then have a CT scan performed. This appointment can take between 15 minutes and one hour depending on what is required. At the end of this appointment you will be given your first treatment appointment.
- One of our nurses will see you, either before or after your scan, to give you more information, particularly about caring for yourself while on treatment and how to prevent and manage any side effects. Please ask if you have questions.
- Your treatment is planned and quality checked by Radiation Therapists in conjunction with your Radiation Oncologist and the Medical Physicists. This process can take up to two weeks, occasionally longer: You will not need to attend our department during this time. The high skill level of your health care team plus our advanced quality assurance processes ensure that your treatment is designed and delivered very accurately using the latest technology and techniques.
- On your first day of treatment delivery you will receive more information from our Nurses and Radiation Therapists. They will check that you understood the information given previously, explain what will happen during treatment and answer any questions you may have.
- Your treatment is delivered by the Radiation Therapists. You will be positioned in the same position as you were in the CT scanner. For each appointment the treatment will usually take between 15 and 45 minutes depending on several factors including imaging (x-rays). Images of the treatment site are taken to confirm the accurate positioning of the treatment. The frequency of imaging depends on the treatment technique. When images are taken they will be checked before the treatment begins. This can add a few minutes to the time you are on the bed. The Radiation Therapists will explain this to you at the time.
- You will need to attend for treatment over several visits, any number from 1 to 39. Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss this with you when you first see them. The remainder of your appointment times will be given to you (as a printed list) on your first day of treatment. Whilst we try not to change appointments, sometimes it is unavoidable. We will always give you a revised printed list and explain the circumstances.
- You have access to all Allied Health services while in our care. These services are free and are available either in the department or in the hospital. Referrals may be made automatically because we have found excellent ways to support you through your treatment. You can ask to see one of the team at any time.
- Your progress and health will be monitored closely throughout your treatment by your team. You will have regular appointments with your doctor, nurse and allied health professionals and ample time to discuss any issues you may have. You are welcome to have a family member or friend accompany and support you during your visits.
- At the end of your course of treatment you will be given a follow-up appointment with either your Radiation Oncologist or with the referring doctor or specialist.
We hope that this information has been useful to you. If you have any questions please get in touch or ask any member of staff during your next visit. We are here to help you and to make your experience as comfortable and easy as possible.
If you have any suggestions to improve this website or any part of our service, please let a staff member know.
How long does each treatment take?
The time it takes to treat you varies from person to person, depending on the area to be treated. Generally the first treatment takes the longest, usually about 20 minutes. Subsequent treatments may then take about 10 minutes. The radiation is only turned on for one or two minutes, with the majority of the time spent positioning you and in checking measurements. A course of treatment can take anything up to seven weeks depending on the diagnosis.
Is the treatment painful?
No, you will not feel the treatment. You will hear some noises as the machine switches on and off.
What are the side effects of treatment?
Side effects vary considerably and depend on the area of the body being treated and the amount of radiation given. Two people having the same treatment may react differently, while some people have no side effects. Reactions can also vary from one course of radiation treatment to the next. The type and severity of the side effects has nothing to do with the success of your treatment. You will receive information specific to you from your doctor, nurse or radiation therapist.
Will I be radioactive after treatment?
External radiation therapy does not make you radioactive. It is safe to be with other people during your course of treatment and afterwards.
When will I see the doctor?
On your first day of treatment you will be given your appointments to see the doctor. The nurse is also available to see you. Please ask the reception staff and they will call the nurse for you.
How much does radiation treatment cost?
You will have no out-of-pocket expenses as Medicare and/or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs covers the cost of the treatment.
What follow up will I receive?
Towards the end of your course of treatment you will see your doctor who will decide on your follow-up care. Your follow-up care will depend on the other doctors involved in your care and your specific needs.