What is Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy)?
External beam radiotherapy is the use of a machine (called a Linear Accelerator) that directs a high energy beam of X-rays to treat cancer cells and other diseases. The aim of radiotherapy is to destroy the cancer cells and/or shrink the tumour in the tissue at your treatment site. It can be used with the intent to cure or to relieve symptoms such as pain. Your treatment will be carefully prescribed by your Oncologist and planned to ensure the treatment includes all of the diseased area and limits the radiation dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
How long will treatment take?
The treatment is given as an outpatient, Monday to Friday. Each treatment takes about 15-30 minutes. You should allow for an hour out of your day.
Will I be radioactive?
You will NOT be radioactive from external beam radiotherapy treatment. You can safely interact with other people, including children and pregnant women, at any time before and after your treatment, throughout the entire course.
Will the treatment hurt?
No. External beam radiation therapy does not cause any pain during its delivery. The experience is just like having an x-ray. You can hear the machine while it is switched on, but most patients will describe no sensation.
Will I lose my hair?
The side effects of radiotherapy are local in nature. Hair loss may occur but this will be limited to the treatment area only.
Is it safe to take vitamin tablets and herbal medicines?
Before starting any medicines which includes prescription, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and alternative, natural or herbal medicines tell your doctor, radiation therapist or nurse. Some medications can interact with your treatment.
Can I drive during treatment?
In general, most patients will be well enough to drive whilst they are receiving radiotherapy treatment. If you are receiving radiotherapy to your brain, are unwell or are on strong pain killers, discuss with your radiation oncologist prior to driving a motor vehicle.
At your planning appointment you will be given a swipe card to use to "check-in" to your treatment appointments. The card reader is located at the front desk. Please return this card at the end of your treatment so that we can recycle it. For all other appointments, please tell the reception staff what you are here for.
On your first treatment appointment you may be given a hospital gown or pants to change into daily. Keep this with you and return it at the end of your treatment.
Whilst we endeavour to give patients the appointment times requested, this may not be possible due to the considerable number of patients undergoing treatment in the centre.
Each treatment machine has a service day once a fortnight. On these days some patients do not have treatment or their treatment appointment time will be different to their regular time. Please check your appointment schedule prior to attending treatment daily.
You will see your radiation oncologist or a member of their medical team weekly or fortnightly to discuss your treatment progress and address any issues you may have. Let the front desk reception staff know that you are here for a treatment review.