What is radiotherapy and why do I need it?
Radiotherapy is the controlled use of high energy X-rays, usually following surgery. They are used to make the breast less susceptible to any regrowth of cancer.
What happens next?
Your Surgeon will now refer you on to the Clinical Oncologist (Radiotherapy Doctor), you should receive an appointment within the next two to three weeks to discuss your forthcoming treatment with him/her.
After you have seen the Radiotherapy Doctor the Scheduling Office will ring you with your next appointment to attend the Radiotherapy Department at Freeman Hospital (Northern Centre for Cancer Care).
Your first two appointments will be to plan your treatment. This is called ‘planning’ and is done on a machine called a simulator. It may also involve you having a CT scan to check the position of your heart and lungs. This scan is simply to help us plan your treatment and you will not get any results from it. The dates for your treatment will be sent in the post, and appointment times are usually arranged with the treatment radiographers.
While you are waiting for your treatment to start many people find that it is helpful to use a simple moisturiser on the area to be treated. This helps to make sure that your skin in good condition before the treatment starts.
What will my first visit entail?
Your first visit to the Radiotherapy Department will last approximately an hour. You will be asked to undress to the waist, put on a gown and lie on an X-ray table. You will need to lie on your back with your arm up and out to the side. The Radiographer (the person who gives the treatment) will explain how to lie in the special backrest that is used to support your arm during treatment.
In order to do this comfortably, it is important to continue with any shoulder or arm exercises you have been advised to do. If you experience any difficulty in doing these after your operation please contact your Physiotherapist or Nurse Specialist so that extra physiotherapy can be arranged before you begin your treatment.
The Doctor will tell the Radiographer exactly where he/she wants the radiotherapy directed. To ensure that the treatment is given to the right place the Radiographer will mark the area to be treated with several tiny permanent ink marks. These are not normally noticeable to anyone else and can be removed at a later date if you wish.
Following this your X-rays and plan of treatment have to be checked by your Consultant or a Doctor from his/her team. This is done on your second visit to the planning department.
Will transport be available when I start treatment?
Yes. The hospital provides an ambulance service which can take you to your daily treatments. There is also charity run transport service within the region. Information can be obtained from the radiotherapy department and your Nurse Specialist.