Patients and Visitors
Before commencing radiotherapy treatment, you may have an appointment with the doctor, and in some case with a specialist nurse, to discuss your treatment options. This is where you will be consented for your Radiotherapy treatment.
On receipt of your referral form from your doctor we will phone you with an appointment to attend for a CT planning scan. This scan will be used to plan your radiotherapy treatment and is not used for diagnostic purposes. All patients having external beam radiotherapy will need to have a CT scan in the position they will be in for all the radiotherapy treatments, so it is important you are comfortable. Our large bore CT scanner is specially designed to allow us to take 3D and 4D scans with our patients in the best position for them to receive their radiotherapy treatment. It may be necessary for you to have an injection of contrast media at your CT scan. This will be fully explained at the CT appointment, if applicable to you.
Some patients will need to have an immobilisation device made. This is to ensure you are in the same position that you will be in for your CT scan and for each of your radiotherapy treatments. For sites such as lung and limb, a vacuum-formed bean bag may be used, whilst for other sites such as breast or prostate, our adjustable site-specific equipment is sufficient. If you are having radiotherapy to the head and/or neck then you may need to have a mask made. These are custom made for each patient and will conform precisely to your shape. This mask will be made at your CT planning scan appointment.
Mask's - Depending on the treatment you are having, you will either have a small mask (that covers the head only) or a large mask (that covers the head, neck and shoulders). They are both made in the same way:
Tattoo dots - To help reproduce your position for the treatment, we may make one or more permanent ink dots (tattoos) to use as reference points.
Our dosimetry radiographers use advanced planning systems to accurately plan the radiotherapy treatments. The planning team routinely plan advanced treatments such as Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT), Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR).
Once the plan is complete a series of checks are carried out before it is ready to be used for radiotherapy treatment. Due to the specific nature of each plan this process can take between 1-5 weeks depending on the type of treatment.
Once the planning process is complete, you will recieve a telephone call from our clerical staff informing you of an appointment to start your radiotherapy treatment. You will not receive the list of all your appointments until you come for that first appointment. During the phone call you will receive information of how to find us. When you receive the telephone call if you have any questions about transport options that is the time to ask as it needs to be booked in advance.
At this appointment, before the first treatment each patient will have a start of treatment review where you will be given your full appointment list and a check in card, which enables you to check in for your subsequent treatments. We can take a preference for morning or afternoon appointments at your planning scan, however we cannot guarantee this. You may also be treated at different times each day.
A radiographer will discuss your upcoming treatment with you, including the treatment process, side effects and their management, as well as going through any concerns or queries. The side-effects of radiotherapy will vary from person-to-person and will depend on the area of your body that is being treated. Once you have had your start of treatment review you will then be ready for your radiotherapy treatment.
The liaison area is where you will have radiographer, doctor, speech and language and dietician reviews to help you cope with the treatment. These appointments may be routine or they may be arranged as required.