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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Cancer Services

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Before treatment

Your care will be managed and given by therapeutic radiographers, doctors and nurses. You will meet both male and female healthcare professionals during the course of your treatment. If you have any concerns about this, please talk to one of the radiographers about it. We try to be sensitive to your needs, so please do not hesitate to discuss things with the team caring for you.

The team

Radiotherapy students or trainee assistant practitioners work in the department alongside the radiographers, under supervision at all times.

Consultant clinical oncologists are responsible for prescribing and supervising your course of radiotherapy. They supervise a team of doctors which include specialist registrars.

Radiotherapy nurse practitioners work with the radiographers and clinical oncologists to provide care, advice, support and information during and after treatment. They frequently undertake treatment reviews to assess side effects and any problems or concerns.

We may ask specialist dietitians or speech and language therapists to see you so that they can assess your needs and provide expert advice and support if your condition requires this.

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is the treatment of cancer and a few other, non-cancerous, conditions using high energy X-rays. Radiotherapy may be given on its own, or it may be used alongside other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or brachytherapy. Radiotherapy treatment for most cancers is given by machines called Linear Accelerators (Linacs). Everyone's treatment is different and planned individually.

How does it work?

Radiotherapy causes changes in cells (normal and cancer/abnormal cells). Cancer cells are more sensitive to radiotherapy than normal cells and so more of them are killed. The normal cells are better able to repair themselves and so the damage to normal cells is mainly temporary. This is the reason why radiotherapy has some side effects.

How often is it given?

This treatment is usually given on an outpatient basis, and generally as a series of daily appointments (fractions) Monday to Friday (five days a week). Radiotherapy treatment can be anything from one treatment to a course lasting seven weeks or more.

It is very important to follow your treatment plan, and avoid any unnecessary gaps during your course of radiotherapy.

For more information about the above, and other patient leaflets, please visit our leaflets page.

Therapeutic radiographers

Therapeutic radiographers are specially trained in radiotherapy and patient care during treatment. They play a vital role in the treatment of cancer. They will treat you and can provide you with support, advice and information throughout the course of your treatment. They also liaise with other healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and dietitians.