WHAT IS IT?
Radiotherapy uses an invisible x ray beam of radiation to kill cancer cells or injure them. Radiotherapy is a specific treatment which targets where the cancer is. Radiotherapy is given from outside the body (externally), you will not see or hear the radiation and you should not feel any discomfort during the treatment.
RADIOTHERAPY CAN BE USED TO:
- Cure in conjunction with other treatment
- Relief of symptoms (palliative)
- To help other treatments (adjuvant)
- Feeling tired and lack of energy
- Skin irritations
- Nausea and diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The average length of treatment is for 3 – 5 weeks, Monday to Friday.
Having many small doses of daily radiation rather than a few large doses helps protect normal body tissues in the treatment area. Weekend breaks allow normal cells to recover.
You will have an initial appointment in the radiotherapy department with a Radiation Oncologist and their Registrar to discuss your medical history, diagnosis, treatment options and more about on what radiotherapy is.
This is followed by a planning appointment with the use of a simulator. This is used to precisely pin point the area of the body being treated. You need to bring your recent CT scans to this appointment. Also at this appointment you will have a tattoo the size of a pinhead to mark the exact location of treatment. At the end of the appointment you will be told your start date and the dates and times for all your treatments.
You can wear your normal clothing to each treatment session but you will need to change into a gown for your upper body to be exposed. The general treatment time is between 10 – 30 minutes, although you will receive radiation only for 15 minutes. Majority of time is spent positioning you and the treatment machine.
Each week you will be reviewed by a Radiation oncologist and the dietician. External radiotherapy does not make you radioactive and is safe for you to be around people when you are having treatment and afterwards.
Once you have completed treatment you will be reviewed by the Radiation Oncologist and have a CT scan and gastroscopy about 8 weeks after completing treatment to see the response by the cancer.