|Iridium Radiotherapy Treatment (moulds)|
1.What is Iridium
Iridium is a radioactive material, which is in the
form of lengths of wire. These will
be placed into a perspex mould that is worn against the skin so that the
radiation is concentrated where the treatment is most needed.
The treatment can take from two to seven days and you
will be expected to wear the mould either continuously or for a specified number
of hours per day (usually eight), depending on the dose prescribed by the
What does the
Treatment involve ?
A couple of weeks before your treatment starts, you will be asked to attend an appointment in the mould room. Here the staff will make plaster cast impression of the treatment area that they will subsequently turn into a perpsex 'shell' or mould that can be worn against the skin. The doctor will decide which area needs to be treated and a separate attachment will be made for this area with the radioactive iridium wire impregnated inside it.
You will come back for another short appointment in
the mould room once the perspex shell is made, to ensure that it fits properly
and is comfortable for you.
The room where you will be receiving your radiotherapy treatment is on ward A5. It has been specially designed for the treatment that you are going to have. The doors have been lead lined for the safety of you and others.
Your room will contain a television, call bell and
We do recommend that you bring books and magazines to
read as you may feel isolated when your treatment commences.
You will be admitted on the day of the procedure.
When arriving on the ward, please report to the
nurses station where you will be shown to your room. A nurse will conduct an admission questionnaire to obtain
information about you and your lifestyle and answer any questions you may want
Food and drinks are served throughout the day.
However; the nurses will be more than happy to make you additional drinks
should you require. Please use the call bell or internal telephone in your room.
Dial 2312 or 2312 to get through to the nurses station.
Commencement of Treatment:
On the first day you arrive, you will be given your shell to wear and the doctor will attach the radioactive part. Once the radioactive attachment is in place, you will be kept in isolation in your own side room. Visitors will be restricted and will have to follow some radiation safety guidelines whilst in the room (see section 3).
Nursing staff will check on you and your treatment
every four hours to make sure that the radioactive wires remain in the correct
position and that you are comfortable. If
you yourself notice that the mould has altered in position or any of the wires
come loose or fall out, inform the nurses as soon as possible.
DO NOT TOUCH OR PICK UP THE WIRES.
You may contact the nurses at any time using the call button and
The treatment is not painful and you will be able to
read, watch TV and eat and drink normally during the treatment.
We do advise you to do deep breathing and foot and
leg exercises to prevent the risk of complications whilst on bed rest.
Completion of Treatment:
When the treatment is complete, the radioactive attachment and shell will be removed.
You may go home once the treatment has finished.
You will NOT be radioactive and it
is safe for you to be with family and friends.
Once treatment is complete a letter will be sent to your GP regarding the treatment you have received. Any medication needed will be given to you and an outpatients appointment arranged and posted to your address at a later date.
For this treatment there are two alternatives.
You may be asked to wear your shell continuously, or for a set number of
hours per day. The restrictions required for your visitors will depend on
whether you are wearing the radioactive shell when they are present in the room.
treatment requires you to wear your radioactive shell continuously:
Because your treatment involves radioactive material, we request that a few simple radiation safety precautions should be taken during the time that the wires are in place. If these simple rules are followed, the radiation does not pose a risk to visitors:
must report to the nurse in charge of the ward prior to entering the room and
when they leave
spent by each visitor with you should not normally exceed thirty
minutes per day
must sit behind the lead shields provided in the room
women and persons under 18 years of age must not enter the room
If there is any reason that your visitors will have
difficulty complying with these rules, please ask to speak to the Radiation
Protection Supervisor, who will be happy to discuss them with you.
treatment requires you to wear your radioactive shell for a fixed number of
hours per day:
In this case, you can take the shell off for the remainder of the day and the radioactive part will then be locked away.
It is advised that you receive visitors during the
times of the day that you are not wearing your shell and the radioactive
segment is locked away. Provided
you are not wearing it, the time your visitors can spend with you is not
Visitors must report to the nurse in charge of the
ward prior to entering the room and when they leave.
Potential Side Effects
This is a localised form of radiotherapy and side
effects therefore only related to the area that receives treatment. There are
two types of side effects; those which come on during or immediately after
treatment and resolve acute (early)
effects and those which can be long term late (delayed) effects. These
can come on within weeks or even years after treatment and are permanent.
Your oncologists will have taken these into account when considering the
benefits of treatment and will inform you of those 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. The more
common side effects will now be described but this does not mean you will
definitely get them and it is also possible you may experience a side effect not
You can expect a skin reaction in the area treated by the mould. It may become red and sore (a little like sunburn). This reaction will start 10 to 14 days after the treatment and will last for 21 to 28 days. The skin should remain intact but you should not wet the area until the reaction has settled.
There is a very small risk of developing a blood clot
in the legs when lying in bed in hospital (thrombosis).
You will be given stockings to minimise this risk.
4.b Late effects
The tissues underneath the skin in the treated area can become thickened and less mobile. This is called fibrosis and is a relatively common side effect.
The skin around the area can develop prominent red blood vessels and
become thinned. This is call
telangiectasia and indicates the skin is more fragile than elsewhere.
Very rarely the skin can break down and form an ulcer that doesn’t
You can expect a skin reaction in the area treated.
It may become red and sore (a little like sunburn).
This reaction will start 10 to 14 days after treatment and will last for
21 to 28 days. The skin should
remain intact but you should not wet the area until the reaction has settled.
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.