This page tells you about radiotherapy moulds and masks. There is information about
Moulds are used to keep an area of your body still each time you have your treatment. It is very important that you are in exactly the same position each time. Sometimes you may have a mould or cast made of a part of your body, such as your leg or arm. The mould is also called a shell. Moulds for the head or neck area are called masks. Moulds take about 30 to 60 minutes to make.
If you are having radiotherapy to your head or neck, you will probably need to wear a plastic mask during your treatment. Some types of mask are see through and others aren't. The mould keeps your head completely still. So your treatment will be as accurate as possible. Any marks that are needed to line up the radiotherapy machine are made on the mask.
A mould technician or radiographer makes the mask in the mould room of the radiotherapy department. There are 2 ways of making them. One way uses a plastic mesh that the technician moulds to the shape of your face and neck.The other way uses wet plaster bandages to make a perspex mask. The process can vary slightly between hospitals and usually takes around 30 minutes.
This technique uses a special kind of plastic heated in warm water so that it becomes soft and pliable. The technician puts the plastic on to your face so that it moulds to fit your face exactly. It feels a little like having a warm flannel put onto your face. You can still breathe easily, as the plastic won't cover your nose or mouth.
Once the mesh has moulded and become hard (which takes a few minutes) the technician takes it off. The mask is then ready to be used when you have your treatment.
The video below shows what happens when you have your mesh mask made:
View a transcript of the video showing what happens when you have your mesh mask made:(opens in new window).
The technician may give you a swimming cap or some other covering to wear, to protect your hair from the mould mixture. Firstly, they apply a cool cream or gel onto your face. Then, they put strips of plaster of paris bandage on top of this. You will still be able to breathe, because they leave holes around your nose and mouth.
Plaster of paris gets warm while it is setting. This is normal and may make the process uncomfortable. Don't worry, it won't burn you. The plaster takes about five minutes to set and the technician then removes it. They make a perspex mask from this mould.
The pictures below show a perspex mask.
The mask fits snugly to your face and neck and has holes cut for your eyes, nose and mouth. It is ready to wear at your next visit.
The photo above shows how a mould is fixed to the radiotherapy table while you are having treatment. It may feel strange and claustrophobic at first, but you will only have it on for a few minutes at a time. Tell the staff in the department if you feel worried or anxious. Most people soon get used to it.
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