What to expect in your radiotherapy treatment sessions for testicular cancer.
Radiotherapy means the use of radiation, usually x-rays, to treat cancer cells.
Radiotherapy for seminoma testicular cancer
You might have radiotherapy if seminoma testicular cancer has spread to the lymph glands at the back of your tummy (abdomen).
Radiotherapy works very well for seminoma. Almost all men with this type of cancer are completely cured. The treatment area is usually a strip down the middle of your abdomen (called a midline strip).
You have radiotherapy in the hospital radiotherapy department in short sessions (called fractions) each weekday from Monday to Friday. You don't have treatment at the weekend.
The whole course normally lasts from 3 to 4 weeks.
The radiotherapy room
Radiotherapy machines are very big and shaped like a C. They rotate around you to give you your treatment. The machine does not touch you at any point.
Before you start your course of treatment your radiographers explain what you see and hear. In some departments the treatment rooms have docks for you to plug in your music player. So you can listen to your own music.
During the treatment
You need to lie very still. Your radiographers might take images (x-rays or scans) before your treatment to make sure that you're in the right position. The machine makes whirring and beeping sounds. You won’t feel anything when you have the treatment.
Your radiographers can see and hear you on a CCTV screen in the next room. They can talk to you over an intercom. They'll ask you to raise your hand if you need anything but it is important to stay as still as possible.
You won't be radioactive
External radiotherapy does not make you radioactive. It's safe to be around other people including pregnant women and children.
Travelling to radiotherapy appointments
Tell the radiotherapy department if you prefer treatment at a particular time of day. They can try to arrange this.
Car parking can be difficult at hospitals. It’s worth asking the radiotherapy unit staff:
- if they can give you a hospital parking permit
- about discounted parking rates
- where you can get help with travel fares
- for tips on free places to park nearby
If you have no other way to get to the hospital, the radiotherapy staff might be able to arrange hospital transport for you. But it might not always be at convenient times. To see if you're elegible they usually work it out based on your earnings or income.
Some hospitals have their own drivers or can arrange ambulances. Some charities offer hospital transport.