Preventative radiotherapy to the brain for SCLC

When SCLC has responded well to treatment, doctors sometimes recommend having radiotherapy to the brain.

This is called prophylactic cranial radiotherapy (PCR) or prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI).

With SCLC, there is a risk that tiny numbers of cancer cells may have spread to the brain. PCR helps to prevent any cancer cells from developing in the brain.

During treatment you may have a soft clamp fitted to each side of your head to hold it exactly still. This is to make sure that the precise area is treated. Or before treatment starts they may use a see-through perspex device or a plastic mesh to make a mould that fits around your head. This helps you stay in position during treatment.

PCR is usually given daily, Monday–Friday. The number of sessions will depend on your individual situation. Common side effects include feeling very tired and sleepy, and losing the hair on your head, but this is usually temporary.

We have more information about prophylactic cranial radiotherapy (PCR).

Back to External beam radiotherapy explained

What is external beam radiotherapy?

External beam radiotherapy is the most common type of radiotherapy. A big machine directs external radiotherapy beams at the affected area.