See how you have a planning scan and what happens during your radiotherapy planning session.
Planning your treatment
The radiotherapy team plans your external beam radiotherapy before you start treatment. This means working out how much radiation you need to treat the cancer and exactly where you need it. Your planning appointment takes from 15 minutes to 2 hours.
You have a planning CT scan in the radiotherapy department. The scan shows the cancer and the area around it.
You usually lie on your front with a special cushion under you. You might need to raise your arms above your head.
Your radiographers might put a thin metal wire or small metal ball into the anal margin. This is so the area clearly shows up on scans or x-rays.Your doctor uses these scans to work out exactly where to give the treatment.
This way it:
- kills the most cancer cells
- misses as much healthy body tissue as possible
Once you are in position the radiographers move the couch up and through the scanner. You need to lie very still. The radiographers leave the room and the scan starts. It takes about 5 minutes. You won't feel anything. The radiographers watch from the next door room.
Before the planning appointment you might also have other scans such as MRI scans or PET scans. Your treatment team can feed the other scans into the planning scanner.
Ink and tattoo marks
The radiographers might make pin point sized tattoo marks in the treatment area. These make sure they treat exactly the same area every day. They may also draw marks around the tattoos with a permanent ink pen. This highlights the tattoos and makes them look like small crosses.
The radiotherapy unit staff tell you how to look after the markings. The pen marks might start to rub off in time. If that happens, tell your radiographer. Don't try to redraw them yourself.
After your planning session
It can take a few days or up to 3 weeks before you start treatment.
During this time your radiologists and doctors create your radiotherapy plan. They make sure that the area of the cancer will receive a high dose and surrounding areas receive a low dose.