Outside view of the main entrance to the Edinburgh Cancer Centre

Radiotherapy (Edinburgh Cancer Centre) - Western General Hospital

If you are to begin a course of radiotherapy for cancer, the images and descriptions in the virtual tour below are designed to help you understand what to expect during your treatment.

Additional information is available for these cancers:

To contact the Radiotherapy Department please call the Main Switchboard for the Western General Hospital on 0131 537 1000.   

This is what you can expect if you are to begin a course of radiotherapy for cancer in the Edinburgh Cancer Centre at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

Main entrance to the Edinburgh Cancer Centre

Before your treatment can start, treatment preparation or 'planning' must be done. This will include a visit to the Edinburgh Cancer Centre, Western General Hospital before you start your treatment. You will be sent a letter or telephoned with an appointment date and time for your treatment planning.

Edinburgh Cancer Centre main receptionWaiting area

 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. 

CT  scanner

A CT scanner is a special X-ray machine used to plan your treatment.  It may be necessary to partially undress 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 during the course of treatment. In other cases a mould or shell may be necessary to prevent movement during treatment (e.g. radiotherapy to the head or neck).  This may require an extra visit and is usually carried out before treatment planning.

This visit to the CT scanner 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.  Once the CT is complete you will be shown where you should go for your treatment.

Reporting to 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 treatment machine.

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.

Radiographer at CT scanner

The radiotherapy treatment is painless and generally takes less time than the treatment planning.  The radiographers will position you carefully and set the treatment machine to the correct areas.
Patient on CT scanner with radiographer adjusting the machine
Your doctor or the radiographers will explain to you how many treatments you require. You will be treated at more than one position each day. The treatment machine will rotate round you to different positions. The treatment to each area will take less than a minute each day.

Control room

The radiographers will be with you to position you for treatment, however they must leave the room while the radiotherapy is given.  This picture shows the desk where the Radiographers can switch on the treatment machine and monitor you through CCTV when you are having your treatment.

A radiographer is explaining the treatment to a patient.

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.

A patient discussing the progress of her treatment

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.