Mantle radiotherapy for lymphoma
Radiotherapy is a localised treatment and side effects depend on the area of your body receiving the X-rays (in your case the chest). There are two types of side effects; those which come on during or immediately after treatment (acute side effects) and those which can be long term (late side effects). Your oncologists will have taken these into account when considering the benefits of treatment and will inform you of the side effects you are likely to get. Please discuss any concerns with your doctor, specialist nurse or radiographer at the time of consent or at any time during radiotherapy.
This information sheet provides 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 experience a side effect not mentioned here.
Your first appointment at the radiotherapy centre will be a planning session. This will either be in the simulator. Report to the reception desk, show them your card, and they will direct you. You will then be welcomed by a specialist radiographer, who are people who operate the machines to plan and give your treatment. Don't be embarrassed to ask them anything you are concerned about. During this first visit we plan and arrange your radiotherapy - 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 each patient will take - unfortunately it is possible you may wait a long time.
The simulator is a machine which is a direct copy of a therapy machine. It takes X-rays pictures to enable the oncologist to decide the exact area of your chest which needs treatment. While very accurate measurements are taken, you will have to lie on a fairly hard couch which may be slightly uncomfortable. A small tattoo about the size of a pin head is made on your body - giving a permanent record of the measurements.
The treatment machine looks similar to the simulator. You will not be required to do anything you haven't already done in the simulator. Although the radiographers are not in the room while you are being treated, you are being watched at all times on a video camera. If you feel any distress, the machine can be turned off and the radiographers will be at your side within seconds. There is also an intercom which is left on. Treatment usually lasts only 1 to 2 minutes. While the machine is on, you usually do not have any sensation. After treatment you will not be radioactive.
Additional information the BACUP booklets "Understanding radiotherapy" and "Understanding Hodgkins disease"" . A video called "Radiotherapy & chemotherapy" is also available from HEP 231a Cathedral Rd, Cardiff CF11 9PP, Tel:01222 40 30 22,
Potential acute side effects
Potential late side effects
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.