Radical radiotherapy for non small cell lung cancer

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This information sheet aims to provide a brief introduction to radiotherapy and explains the common side effects you may experience. This does not mean you will definitely get them. It is also possible you may get a side effect not mentioned here.

Why am I having radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is the use of strong X-rays to destroy cancer cells. The aim of this treatment is to clear the cancer from your lung.

What will happen when I have radiotherapy?

You will have a treatment each weekday (Monday to Friday) over four weeks, i.e. usually 20 treatments in total.

Your treatment needs careful planning. This will involve having a special CT Scan. You will then come to the treatment simulator a few days before your treatment starts. You will have some X-ray pictures and some marks put on your chest to show where the radiotherapy will go. The purpose of this visit is to plan and check the radiotherapy so you may not have a formal consultation with the doctor at this stage. Of course any urgent issues will be addressed but others should be saved for the regular consultations you will have during treatment. It is often difficult to judge exactly how long this will take - it is possible you may have to wait a long time.

Treatment itself is quite painless and takes around 15 minutes each day. You will be in the treatment room on your own, but will be on a closed-circuit TV watched by the radiographers and can talk to them over an intercom. You will see the doctor once a week during your treatment.

You may feel tired each day after your treatment and may have less energy as the treatment progresses. You will not be radioactive after treatment and you will not lose your hair.

Will I have any side effects from the radiotherapy?

You may experience a number of side effects:

Radiotherapy can continue to have a beneficial effect on the tumour for some weeks after the completion of treatment. For this reason follow-up appointments to assess how you are will be made approximately 6 weeks after your last treatment.

Your doctor, nurse and radiographer will discuss everything with you and answer any questions you may have.

Additional general information can be found in the BACUP booklets "Understanding radiotherapy" and "Understanding cancer of the lung" . These and other leaflets can be obtained from the racks around the hospital or clicking on the BACUP within the gateway page. A video called "Radiotherpy & chemotherapy" is also available from HEP 231a Cathedral Rd, Cardiff CF11 9PP, tel:01222 40 30 22, Fax. 01222 665450, email: health.education@btinternet.com or visiting the HEP homepage.  can be found in the BACUP booklets "Understanding radiotherapy" and "Understanding cancer of the lung" . These and other leaflets can be obtained from the racks around the hospital or clicking on the BACUP within the gateway page. A video called "Radiotherpy & chemotherapy" is also available from HEP 231a Cathedral Rd, Cardiff CF11 9PP, tel:01222 40 30 22, Fax. 01222 665450, email: health.education@btinternet.com or visiting the HEP homepage. 


Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.


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