Planning your radiotherapy treatment

Planning your treatment

Radiotherapy is carefully planned for each person to make sure it is accurate and effective. This is done by a team, including your cancer doctor (clinical oncologist). You may have a few visits to the radiotherapy department to plan your treatment.

You will have a CT scan or lie under a machine called a simulator, which takes x-rays of the area to be treated. You may need to take off some clothes and wear a hospital gown. The radiotherapy team will help you get into the right position. You will be lying on a table that is similar to the one used for treatment.

The doctor or radiographer may make a few ink marks on the mask if you have one. You may also have a permanent mark (tattoo) made. This involves making a small scratch in the skin with a needle and some ink. These marks make it easier to get you into the same position each time you come in for treatment. Treatment planning usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.

Treatment sessions

When you have the treatment, you lie in exactly the same position on a table below a radiotherapy machine. The radiotherapy team will help you and will make sure you are comfortable. Some people have a scan each day before radiotherapy, to make sure they are in the correct position.

You may be in the treatment room for 10 to 20 minutes. The actual treatment only takes a few minutes and is not painful. Sometimes you will be alone in the room. The radiographers can see you at all times on a screen. They can also hear and talk to you through microphones and speakers in the treatment room.

Back to Radiotherapy explained

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.