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Welcome to the Radiotherapy department at the Royal Derby Hospital

Radiotherapy office

What is involved in having radiotherapy?

Most patients receive photon (x-rays and gamma rays) radiotherapy. This is delivered by special equipment called linear accelerators (or LINAC for short). Unlike CT, MRI and PET scanners, the LINAC treatment machines do not encompass or surround you completely. There may be times however when the machine may come close, but it should never touch you. 

Radiotherapy is a precise and accurate treatment. The staff giving you the treatment need to accurately set you up in the correct position. Special equipment within the LINAC directs the x-rays to the precise area affected according to your individually planned treatment.

You will be called and shown to the treatment room. You will be asked your full name, date of birth and first line of address every day within the room.

Radiotherapy machine

You will then be asked to lie on the treatment couch in the same position as you were back at the CT-scanner. We use dimmed lighting, and green lasers shinning across your body within the room in order to set you up (these lasers do not harm you, they are used to aid treatment set-up and patient positioning). 

It is quite likely the radiographers will have to “twist and rotate” you into position. You do not need to help. Please try and remain relaxed and lie heavy on the bed. 

Once you are in position, you may notice the radiographers calling out numbers according to your treatment plan and discussing the setting up of your treatment between themselves. They may appear to be muttering between themselves, but please be reassured that they are not ignoring you. Please try to remain still throughout your treatment.

When the radiographers are happy with your position, they will let you know that they are leaving the room. You won’t feel or see anything when the treatment is on. You will hear only a “buzzing” sound while the treatment machine is switched on. 

You will be monitored throughout, and should you require the radiographers during treatment you can give us a wave and they can switch off the machine and come in the room. You will need to lie as still as possible but you can breathe and swallow as normal. 

However we may ask you may to hold your breath for brief periods while the treatment beam is switched on in order to reduce risk side-effects in the area of treatment. If we do, you will be provided with coaching and time to practice prior to the start of treatment.

Once the treatment is complete you are free to leave the department. The treatment will take about 15 - 25 minutes in total. This is from the time you enter the room to the time you leave the room. 

The treatment does not make you radioactive and you do not need to isolate yourself from others.

You will be regularly be reviewed by the Doctor or Clinic review radiographer and depending on your condition may be referred to other specialists e.g. Dietician or Physiotherapist.