What is radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy is the use of high energy x-rays to treat cancers (and sometimes other diseases).
Why might I have radiotherapy?
You might have radiotherapy to try to cure your cancer. This is called radical treatment.
Some people have it to relieve symptoms and make them feel better. This is called palliative treatment.
If you are going to have a bone marrow or stem cell transplant (e.g. for leukaemia) you may have radiotherapy in preparation for this procedure. This is called total body irradiation, or TBI.
You may have radiotherapy on its own or with another treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or hormone therapy. This is called adjuvant radiotherapy and is given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
Everyone is different. Even patients with the same cancers may have different treatments. You will have a treatment plan tailored to your exact needs and your oncologist will talk you through this.
How does radiotherapy work?
Radiotherapy damages cancer cells in the part of the body being treated. Normal cells can also be damaged by the radiotherapy, but they repair themselves more easily than cancer cells.
It can be given from inside or outside the body.
Radiotherapy from outside the body is called external beam radiotherapy, this is the most common type of radiotherapy .
How is external beam radiotherapy delivered?
External beam radiotherapy is delivered using a machine called a linear accelerator. This is a treatment machine (pictures below) that directs high energy x-rays at exactly the place where your doctor wants the treatment to be delivered. Radiotherapy is carefully planned so that it damages as few normal cells as possible.
At the Northern Centre for Cancer Care there are two types of linear accelerator. They both deliver radiotherapy treatment but in different ways.
The scheduling office will arrange your appointments for planning. Sometimes arrangements for your first visit may be made over the telephone during discussion with one of the scheduling staff.
When you attend for your CT or MRI planning scan you will be given your first treatment appointment time.
On your first treatment appointment the radiographers will give you a list of appointments. These times may need to change at short notice so it’s important we have your correct telephone number.
It is very important that you do not miss any of your treatments.
If you are unable to attend any of your appointments you must advise the scheduling office:
Telephone: 0191 213 8777
Please inform the scheduling office if you have a heart pacemaker.