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The Beatson - West of Scotland Cancer CareNHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Radiotherapy

The member of staff responsible for the delivery of radiotherapy to the patient is called a THERAPEUTIC RADIOGRAPHER.  There are currently a number of Therapeutic Radiographers working at the West of Scotland Cancer Centre (WoSCC).  Within the overall remit of treatment delivery,  the Therapeutic Radiographer’s responsibilities include; booking patient courses, planning radiotherapy treatments (Simulation), processing and checking electronic data relating to the treatment, and of course, administering the radiotherapy via the operation of the radiotherapy machines (Linear Accelerators).  The Radiographers are the first port of call for patients regarding treatment side effects or general enquires.  The Radiographers will liaise with the Consultant (Clinical Oncologist), Treatment Planners (Physics), Mould Room Staff, nursing staff, dieticians etc to ensure as smooth a patient journey as possible  through their course of radiotherapy.

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Radiotherapy Facts and Figures

There are now 11 Radiotherapy machines at the WoSCC which currently deliver over 300 radiotherapy treatments per day.  There is also a Superficial Radiotherapy Unit which is used to treat a variety of malignant conditions including some skin cancers.  There are several Internal Radiotherapy machines (Brachytherapy) used as part of the treatment of some gynaecological tumours.  These facilities  make the Beatson WoSCC the biggest Radiotherapy centre in the UK.

Radiotherapy Treatment

There are several different types of Radiotherapy treatments available at the Beatson WoSCC developed to treat a variety of cancer types.  The vast majority of Radiotherapy treatments are given using a large x-ray machine known as a Linear Accelerator.  These machines give, what is generally termed, External Beam Radiotherapy.  This may be given in a single treatment or over a course of treatments (fractionation), typically, one treatment per day between Mon to Fri. 

Radiotherapy is often used in conjunction with other therapies, including surgery (either before or after radiotherapy), and chemotherapy.  In some cases during a course of radiotherapy, patients may require a short admission to the wards while chemotherapy is administered (depending on the chemotherapy drug needed)

A patient requiring typical radiotherapy treatment is given a 10 minute outpatient appointment.  The patient will check-in at one of two reception desks (depending on their allocated treatment unit) and will then be directed to a small waiting area adjacent to their treatment unit.  The radiographer, having carefully checked the patient’s identity, will then escort the patient into the exposure room while providing a brief explanation of the procedure to follow.  The patient is positioned on the treatment couch and set-up as per the Treatment Plan using the small reference marks on the body (tattoos).  Only the part of the body being treated will have to be undressed and the radiographers will take all measures to preserve the patient’s dignity at all times.  The machine is positioned to the correct angle, the size and position of the treatment field is set.  When the radiographer is satisfied that the patient is set up correctly and all treatment parameters agree with the plan, the radiographers will then leave the exposure room and commence the treatment from the control panel located outside.  From there they will ensure that the exact dose is delivered and will monitor the patient via CCTV.  A typical radiotherapy treatment will consist of between one and five fields and the radiographer will usually re-enter the exposure room to set up each field.  When the machine switches off at the end of the treatment there is no radiation present either in the room or within the patient.

In some cases, mainly for patients with some types of head and neck cancer, a plastic moulded mask will be will be used to assist the patient keeping still, and to accommodate any marks needed for setting-up.  This then means no marks need be placed on the patient’s skin.  If this or any other custom equipment is required for treatment an appointment for the Mould Room will be scheduled.

Key Points of Interest

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  • Radiotherapy Advice Line

  • This telephone service is available to all patients, relatives and carers attending the Beatson Cancer Centre...

  • Click here to find out more...
  • Outpatient Information
  • Outpatient Information

  • When you arrive please book in to the Main Reception which is located just within the entrance to the outpatient department...

  • Click here to find out more...