Planning your treatment

Radiotherapy has to be carefully planned to make sure it is as effective as possible. It’s planned by a cancer specialist (clinical oncologist) and it may take a few visits.

On your first visit to the radiotherapy department, you’ll be asked to have a CT scan or to lie under a machine called a simulator. A simulator takes x-rays of the area to be treated.

You may need to have some small marks made on your skin. This is to help the radiographer (who gives you your treatment) position you accurately and to show where the rays will be directed. These marks must stay visible throughout your treatment, so permanent marks (like tiny tattoos) are usually used. They are extremely small, and this will only be done with your permission.

It may be a little uncomfortable while they are done.

The doctor may place a small metal marker on the skin around your anus. The marker shows up on the scan so the doctor can see the exact area to be treated.

Treatment sessions

At the beginning of each radiotherapy session, the radiographer will position you carefully on the couch and make sure you are comfortable.

During your treatment you’ll be alone in the room, but you can talk to the radiographer who will watch you from the next room.

Radiotherapy is not painful, but you have to lie still for a few minutes during treatment.

Back to Radiotherapy explained

Radiotherapy for anal cancer

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. You usually have it along with chemotherapy for anal cancer.

Before your radiotherapy

Before you start radiotherapy, your team will explain what your treatment involves and how it may affect you.

Your radiotherapy team

You will meet many different specialists from your radiotherapy team. You may see them before, during and after radiotherapy treatment.

After your radiotherapy

It can take time to recover from radiotherapy. Support is there if you have any problems.