Radiotherapy means the use of radiation, usually x-rays, to treat cancer cells. You might have external radiotherapy for a neuroendocrine tumour (NET) that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones or brain. It can control the pain and help you feel better.
External radiotherapy is also called external beam radiotherapy.
The radiotherapy room
Radiotherapy machines are very big and could make you feel nervous when you see them for the first time. The machine might be fixed in one position or able to rotate around your body to give treatment from different directions. The machine doesn't touch you at any point.
Before your first treatment, your
During the treatment
To have treatment you lie on the treatment couch. You wear a mask to keep your head still if you’re having radiotherapy to the brain. Your radiographer leaves the room before the treatment starts.
You need to lie very still. The machine makes whirring and beeping sounds. You can't feel the radiotherapy while you are having the treatment.
Your radiographers watch and listen to you on a CCTV screen in the next room. Let them know if you need to move or want the machine to stop.
You won't be radioactive
This type of radiotherapy won't make you radioactive. It's safe to be around other people, including pregnant women and children.
Travelling to radiotherapy appointments
You might have to travel a long way each day for your radiotherapy, depending on where your nearest cancer centre is. This can make you very tired, especially if you have side effects from the treatment.
You can ask the
Car parking can be difficult at hospitals. You can ask the radiotherapy staff if they can give you a hospital parking permit for free parking or advice on discounted parking. They may be able to give you tips on free places to park nearby.
The radiotherapy staff may be able to arrange transport if you have no other way to get to the hospital. Your radiotherapy doctor would have to agree. This is because it is only for people that would struggle using public transport and have no access to a car.
Some people are able to claim back a refund for healthcare travel costs. This is based on the type of appointment and whether you claim certain benefits. Ask the radiotherapy staff for more information about this.
Some hospitals have their own drivers and local charities might offer hospital transport. So do ask if any help is available in your area.
You are most likely to have radiotherapy to help control the symptoms of a NET. The dose you need for this is low, so you are unlikely to have many side effects.
The side effects you have depend on which part of the body is treated. Side effects might include:
- feeling tired (fatigue)
- hair loss if you have radiotherapy to the brain
- red skin in the treatment area that may feel sore
- feeling or being sick
Let your radiographers know if you have any problems or side effects. They can give you advice or arrange for you to see a doctor.
Treatment for neuroendocrine tumours can be difficult to cope with for some people. Your nurse will give you phone numbers to call if you have any problems at home.