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Radiotherapy, which can also be known as radiation treatment or radiation therapy, is the use of specifically targeted radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy has a range of uses, from treating early stage cancers to using to relieve pain and alleviate other symptoms if the cancer has spread.

Radiotherapy has been used for treating cancers (and sometimes some non-cancerous diagnosis) for over 100 years. 

The CyberKnife in situ at The London Clinic

Radiotherapy can be delivered externally (known as external beam radiotherapy) or internally. Treatment examples include intra-operative radiotherapy (IORT) or brachytherapy.

Treatments are divided into doses, or 'fractions' and your doctor will prescribe you a dose and the number of fractions which will be safe to deliver, evidence-based and appropriate to your diagnosis.

Please take time to read our radiotherapy pathway for patients. This a step-by-step guide to what will happen before, during and after your appointment.

Our Radiotherapy department has CHKS accreditation and also the Macmillan Quality Environment Mark (MQEM).

Radiotherapy Conditions and Treatments 

The London Clinic's oncologists can help treat many forms of cancer.

Patients undergoing radiotherapy are able to receive a number of cutting-edge treatments within the hospital.

Use the adjacent tool to find your condition, or the treatment you require.

Frequently asked questions

No. You will not feel anything.

No. No one is allowed to stay in the room with you during treatment due to the radiation being delivered.

We ask that relatives wait in the waiting room whilst you have treatment to ensure our radiographers can concentrate solely on the delivery of your treatment.

The radiographers leave the treatment room in order to deliver the radiation to you, this is for health and safety reasons.

The imaging and treatment controls are outside the treatment room so that the staff and the computer equipment do not receive any radiation.

They are watching you on CCTV throughout your treatment and can come in to you at any time if you need them.

The tattoos are small permanent marks placed just under the surface of your skin using a needle and sterile ink.

Unlike pen marks using a permanent pain, which can be washed off, these tattoos are permanent. They are used as reference points when positioning you for your treatment. 

There are laser lights in the treatment room and the radiographers position the tattoos to line up with them so you are in exactly the same position as when you had your pre-treatment CT scan. 

The radiographers will be shouting out information to each other during during your set up.

Every part of your treatment is checked independently by two radiographers.

They will also be checking the position of the treatment machine and the bed you are laying on against a set of numbers displayed on the computer screens in the treatment room.

These figures relate to the distance you are away from the head of the machine, the immobilisation you are lying on and the bed position.

Every patient treated with radiotherapy at The London Clinic has a personalised treatment plan.

Your doctor will select a dose and number of treatments that is safe, evidence-based and appropriate to the stage, location and biological make up of your cancer.

No. We will only expose the area we need to see in order to get you into the right position for treatment.

You will be given a gown and a dressing gown daily to change into for treatment, if required.

Radiotherapy damages both the normal cells and the tumour cells that are located within the treatment area.

These cells can heal between each fraction of treatment. While it is undesirable to allow tumour cells time to heal, it is required to allow some time for the body’s healthy tissue cells to repair from the radiation damage. 

A way to prevent severe radiotherapy side effects is to not treat every day without a break, but rather to allow two days a week for healing.

It is not advisable to miss any of your scheduled treatments. Please speak to your radiotherapy team or your consultant to discuss if you think your need to miss a treatment.

Treatment side effects differ depending on which area of the body you are having treatment.

Please see the leaflets that are given to you by the radiotherapy team.

Where possible we will try to accommodate treatment time requests. Please speak to reception to move any treatment appointments.

You must tell the radiographers if you have any infections in any area of the body.

It is very important that you also tell the radiographers if you have a ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) or pacemaker. 

You should tell your GP that you are having cancer treatment.

At the end of your radiotherapy, the radiographers will give you a summary letter to give to your GP.

You will lose the hair in the area we are treating.

For example: if you are having radiotherapy to your brain you will lose the hair on your head in the treatment area.

If you are having radiotherapy treatment to your prostate, you may lose the pubic hair in the area that is in the treatment field but not the hair on your head.

We do ask you every day, not because we don’t know who you are but as a safety check.

This is to ensure you are the right patient in the room and that we have loaded the correct treatment plan.