It is important that your programme of radiotherapy is planned specifically for you. This means that you may have one or more appointments at NCCT before your radiotherapy starts, depending on what you are being treated for.
To help you get an idea of what to expect, we have outlined below one of the common journeys through radiotherapy treatment.
1. CT scan
The first appointment may be for a planning CT scan. This allows the doctor to see the affected area to decide where the radiotherapy needs to be directed.
When you come in for a CT scan, the reception staff will ask you to sit in the pink area of the waiting room. During the scan you lie on a couch. The couch passes through a large hollow ring, which creates the detailed images for the doctor, so they can design your treatment plan.
The radiographers will put marks on your skin to ensure you are placed in the right position for your treatment. Some of these marks may be semi- permanent, but they are tiny and can barely be seen. However, if you would like them removed after your treatment is complete this can be done by laser.
Some patients will have their skin marked using a special ink pen. Please don’t wash these marks off until the radiographer has told you it is OK to do so. You may need to leave them on until your radiotherapy is finished.
2. Verification session
A second appointment called a verification session may be required. This is a trial run of your treatment to make sure everything worked out on paper can be given to you and all the measurements are correct. You will not actually receive radiotherapy during this session. Occasionally it may be necessary to have a second CT scan during this verification session.
Not all patients require a verification session.
3. Before your radiotherapy session
When you come in for your radiotherapy session the reception staff will ask you to sit in the cream coloured seats in the waiting room. You will then be taken to a private changing cubicle, so you can undress and put on the gown given to you. Your radiographer will advise you which clothes to take off, and will make sure that your privacy is respected at all times.
For your convenience and safety, we would ask you to remember the following four things when you come in:
- Wear clothes that are easy to get in and out of
- Leave valuables at home
- Switch your mobile off.
- If you wear a pacemaker, please tell the doctor or radiographer.
As part of the preparation for your treatment, you may need to go to the “mould room”, where a piece of equipment will be made for you to wear during radiotherapy to keep you in the right position. A mask-like device may be made especially for you to help improve the accuracy of your treatment. The specialist technicians in the “mould room” will explain the procedure and make whatever piece of equipment is needed for your treatment plan.
Not all patients need to visit the mould room.
Before you have radiotherapy, your oncologist will have explained the benefits, risks and possible side effects of your treatment, and we will ask you to sign a consent form to say that you agree to go ahead with the treatment. We will also give you a leaflet relating to your specific treatment to help you further.
Please ask any questions if you are unsure about anything at all.