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Radiotherapy aims to destroy cancer cells without causing too much damage to healthy cells. External beam radiotherapy is high-energy X-ray beams targeted at the treatment site from outside the body.
These x-ray beams damage the cancer cells and stop them from growing and spreading to other parts of the body. Radiotherapy permanently damages and kills the cancer cells, but healthy cells can repair themselves and recover more easily.
The radiotherapy machine does not usually touch you. Treatment usually only takes a few minutes and is not painful.
This treatment is normally given as a number of short, daily treatments in a radiotherapy department. These are called treatment sessions or fractions. It is given using a machine that looks like a large x-ray machine.
You usually have radiotherapy as an outpatient, but it is sometimes given as an inpatient if you are feeling unwell. The number of treatment sessions you have will depend on the type of cancer you have and the aim of the treatment.
Did you know that the therapy radiographers at The London Clinic have a 2mm tolerance for most treatment sites?
This means that when you have you pre-treatment image at the start of each treatment, the Radiographers will take that image and match your position to your CT scan with as little as 2mm of accuracy!
This is why we ask you to keep very still, this tolerance allows us to maximise the dose to the treatment area whist reducing the dose to healthy tissue.
How is the Radiotherapy targeted?
Using a CT scan, the radiation dose is targeted to the correct area of the body. External Beam Radiotherapy (EBRT) directs x-rays not only at the tumour but also, unavoidably, at nearby healthy tissue.
Radiotherapy treatment regimens and plans are designed to deliver a higher dose of radiation to the cancer without causing so much damage to surrounding healthy tissues whilst giving the best Radiobiological effect.
What does Treatment involve?
The treatment itself is given by therapeutic radiographers. You will be positioned carefully on a treatment couch a short distance away from the treatment machine.
Sometimes, an attachment to the machine will rest on your skin during treatment, otherwise there is nothing to feel from the treatment.
Treatments last for a few minutes and you will be alone in the treatment room while the machine is switched on.
The radiographers are just outside the room, watching you on CCTV monitors, and there is a microphone and speaker if you wish to speak to them during your treatment. Your treatment may involve moving the machine to several different positions.
This treatment does not make you radioactive.
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