Breast Radiotherapy

Breast Radiotherapy

On receipt of your referral form from your doctor we will phone you with an appointment to attend for a CT planning scan. Please click here for more information about this appointment.

For your CT scan we will require you to remove all of your top clothes, including your bra and change into a hospital gown, we will also ask you to remove any necklaces or earrings that you may be wearing. We need you to be lying on your back with your arms above your head, holding onto a bar, with your elbows relaxed out until they make contact with our equipment. The equipment is adjustable so please let us know if it does not feel quite right as this will be the position you will be in each day for your treatment. It is very important you are as relaxed as possible in the position so that we can reproduce your position for your treatment. Please continue to do your post operation exercises on BOTH ARMS even if you think you have full movement back. You can also take mild pain relief (whatever you would normally take) before your CT scan or bring it with you, if you think this will help. Having both your arms up above your head is the ideal position, however if you are unable to manage this we do have other positions and equipment that we can use to make it more manageable for you so please do not worry. If you think you may not be able to achieve this position please let your doctor or one of the radiographers know.  

Side Effects

Your treatment has a build-up effect and so we woud not usually expect you to develop side effects until the second week of your treatment. You will be seeing the radiographers every day of your treatment so you will be closely monitored but please let us know if you notice any changes. You will usually see the doctor once during your treatment and if you are having your chest wall treated you will have a weekly skin review. After your treatment has finished the side effects will continue to develop for two weeks, you will be given advice at the end of your treamtent with how to manage this. A follow up appointment will also be arranged in the time frame requested by your doctor.

Early side effects inlcude:

  • Fatigue-this will build throughout your treatment. Try to stay well hydrated and it is recommended you do gentle exercise but it is important you listen to your body and rest if you need to.
  • Erythema-this is a skin reaction that causes reddness of the skin. Please visit our skin care page for more advice.
  • Breast or chest wall tenderness and inflammation-mild pain relief can help with this as well as a cooling flannel or fan over the area.
  • Pneumonitis-inflammation of the lung.

Late side effects include:

  • Breast shape and size changes
  • Skin damage
  • Weakened ribs
  • Lymphoedema
  • Lung scarring
  • Heart damage
  • Secondary malignancies

Your doctor will discuss all the side effects applicable to you when you are consented for your radiotherapy treatment. Please discuss any concerns you have regarding these. 


Pregnancy- It is extremely important that you inform your doctor or your radiographer if you think you may be pregnant.

Cardiac Devices- It is important to inform your doctor and radiographer if you have a pacemaker or ICD as we will have to liaise with cardiology. This will not stop you from having radiotherapy but we may need to take appropritate precautions and arrange checks for your device.


Useful Links

Local support

Bosom Pals Breast Social Group: / 07799 675 864

  • Held on the 4th Wednesday of every month from 19.00 onwards at Fort Stamford Health & Social Club

The Macmillan Support Centre (The Mustard Tree): Level 3 Derriford Hospital, (01752) 430060  

  • The support and information Macmillan provides can be vital in helping you and your family/carers to deal with any worries and The Mustard Tree has a wealth of information ranging from diagnosis to different treatments to financial support. They also have various complimentary therapies available for you to try. If you want more information the best thing to do is arrange an appointment where the Macmillan team can go through all the options available.
National support

Cancer Research UK

Macmillan support

Breast Cancer Care

Breast Cancer Care exercise booklet

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