Cancer Treatment and Radiotherapy Planning – Cancer Research UK


Radiotherapy planning will involve you coming
for an appointment for a CT scan in the radiotherapy department. The idea behind this is that the
doctor needs to work out exactly where needs to be treated and where we need to avoid so
that scan starts us off on that process. For the CT scan most of the time no preparation
is needed before hand. But if any is then you will receive that in a letter, so for
example depending on what you are having treating there might be a contrast agent introduced
or you may need to have a full or an empty bladder depending on what is necessary for
the scan. There are a number of things we do to help people keep still and make sure
the cancer is treated. It’s important that you lay in the same position everytime you
have treatment. This is so to make sure the radiotherapy is directed at the cancer and
normal tissues are avoided. We may put equipment in place to fix your position. If you’re having
radiotherapy for head or neck cancer you will have a mask made, the mask helps you keep
your head really still during treatment. We also lineup the scanner and mark your skin
with a felt pen where the light lines from the machine need to be aimed. They’ll then
leave the room and start the scanner and that scan lasts usually about two to three minutes.
Because pen marks can rub off easily, the radiographer makes them permanent after your
scan by tattooing very small marks on your skin. After the scan, the radiographers will give
you any information that you need before starting treatment and answer any questions that you’ve
got and then you’re free to go home. When I came for the first meeting to plan
the treatment it was a case of having a scan and then lying, remaining on the scan machine
and then the technicians took some measurements, some dimensions and when they were satisfied
that they had the right angles they tattooed me. The next part of planning is your doctor looking
at the scan and marking out on the computer where you need treatment. Once that’s been
done, a physicist or dosimetrist will start to plan your treatment and they use very powerful
computers to work out exactly what dose needs to be given and from which directions it needs
to come from.

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