This is what you can expect if you are to begin a course of
radiotherapy for breast cancer in the Edinburgh Cancer Centre at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
Before this treatment can start, treatment preparation or 'planning' must be done. This will include a visit to the Western General Hospital a few weeks before your first treatment. You will be sent a letter or telephoned with an appointment date and time for your treatment planning.
Your treatment planning will take place in either CT1 or CT2 in the Edinburgh Cancer Centre. Please report to the reception desk on your arrival, from here you will be directed to the correct waiting area.
A CT scanner is a special X-ray machine used to plan your treatment.
It is necessary to undress to the waist for both the CT scan and
treatment. The CT radiographers will put you into the treatment position
and define the treatment area by drawing ink marks onto your skin.
Some measurements will be taken and a CT scan will be performed.
The radiographers will ask your permission to give you some tiny
permanent marks, these will allow you to wash the breast area during the
course of treatment.
This process takes approximately 20 minutes and is painless. The CT
radiographers will explain what they are doing and why as they prepare
your treatment. You will not receive any treatment on this first
planning visit and you may require an additional appointment to take
X-rays prior to starting your treatment.
Your doctor or the CT radiographers will explain to you
how many treatments you require, usually 16 – 25 treatments. In certain
circumstances an extra 4 - 5 treatments called a “boost” may be given and your
Oncologist will inform you if this is necessary. Your treatment will be given
daily on weekdays. There is regular maintenance and testing of the
machines once a month and you may not receive treatment on that day, however you
will still receive the same number of treatments in total. Once the CT checks are complete, you will be shown the way to your treatment machine.
You will be asked to report each day directly to your treatment
machine, or to the main reception desk if you are unsure of the way. If
you are staying in the hospital a porter will bring you directly to the
The radiotherapy treatment is painless and generally takes less time than the treatment planning. The radiographers will position you carefully and set the machine to the correct areas. You will be treated with the machine at more than one position each day. The radiographers will be with you to position you for treatment, however they must leave the room while the radiotherapy is given. The treatment to each area takes approximately half a minute each day.
The radiographers will explain what they are doing at each
stage in the process. If you have any questions or worries about your treatment
or planning please do not hesitate to ask. In both the CT and treatment
machines we have CD players. If you like to listen to music or feel that it may
help you relax please feel free to bring along favourite CDs.
During the course of your treatment you will be seen routinely
once a week by a member of the treatment team, which consists of review radiographers and a nurse. This is to assess how the treatment is
progressing and gives you the opportunity to discuss any problems or questions
that may arise.