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  • Writer's pictureJasmin Jones | Therapy Radiographer

Frequently asked questions about radiotherapy

Therapy Radiographer, Jasmin Jones shares with us some hints and tip on how to prepare for radiotherapy treatment and what to expect during and after treatment. Jasmin is an experienced Therapeutic Radiographer with a BSc in Radiotherapy and Oncology and has also gained an MSc level in Healthcare Leadership and Management.

Preparing for a radiotherapy appointment

Can a patient wash before radiotherapy treatment?

Yes, you can wash prior to treatment. Use a gentle soap or cleanser - nothing too strong smelling or perfumed should be used.

Can a radiotherapy patient put on perfume, moisturiser, deodorant, face cream, body lotion or make up before treatment?

It depends where you are having treatment. If they are having treatment to the face - a face cream is recommended as long as its 'soaked in' if we can physically see moisturiser we will wipe it off.

lady in a white cotton blouse
Wear loose fitting comfortable clothes

What should a patient wear prior to treatment?

Ideally something comfortable and loose fitting, and easy to get to jogging bottoms, skirt, a loose top. The Radiographer will need to see the area they are treating.

Anxiety about radiotherapy treatment

It is perfectly natural to feel some anxiety, it can help to take someone with you both to the oncologists appointment and/or radiotherapy treatment. The first day of radiotherapy treatment usually takes the longest as the radiographer will be double checking your set up, and calling out numbers. So having someone there, may help ease any anxiety you may experience.

What should I take to my radiotherapy appointment?

Take a bottle of water with you as it's important to stay hydrated. You may also be asked to have a full bladder prior to your first radiotherapy appointment time - you will be given directions about what is needed.

Water bottle
Keep hydrated during radiotherapy treatment

Usually you need to drink two plastic cups full of water. For example your appointment

may be at 2pm, you would need to empty your bladder, at 1.30. and drink 2 full cups of

water (check this with your department) and then wait, 20 minutes plus until your

treatment. This ensures the radiographers know how much is in your bladder, and it's consistent.

Can I eat prior to radiotherapy treatment?

You can eat as normal prior to your radiotherapy. If you are diabetic, it is important that you

take snacks with you to ensure you are well for your treatment. The reason for this,

is appointment times may be over running.

At the radiotherapy appointment

How long will I need to wait for my treatment?

clock with no numbers
Bring a book in case your appointment is delayed

We would advise you take a book with you, or something to entertain yourself whilst you are waiting for your radiotherapy treatment, it may be a long wait which could be due to a number of reasons.

However if you feel you have been waiting too long – half hour plus, just check in at reception to ensure that you are checked in correctly.

During the radiotherapy appointment

During your radiotherapy treatment - it is important to try and relax (easier said than done!), and talk to the Therapy Radiographers about any concerns that you may have, they are there to help.

Lie nice and relaxed, and breathe away normally. The more you relax, the quicker the treatment will be during set up. Which means when the Therapy Radiographers will get you into the correct position.

At times you may be asked to breath in and hold your breath (this is more often associated with

individuals going through breast cancer)

If you are given an enema

At times you may be given an enema at you CT scan- which helps plan your radiotherapy. If you have been given an enema. For example if your treatment appointment is at 12. You would need to take the enema at 11am, then wait a few minutes for it to work, (we allow half an hour for this) sometimes there is nothing to release, which is normal. If then your enema has worked at 11.30 you may then be asked to drink water. As mentioned above, you need to drink the 2 full cups of water within 5 minutes (11.35) and then wait, to allow your bladder to fill prior to your Radiotherapy treatment.

What if I am pregnant for my radiotherapy appointment?

If you are potentially pregnant, you must tell the Therapy Radiographer straight away,

to reassess where your treatment is, and if the foetus is at risk.

Is radiotherapy painful?

The most important point- you don’t see or feel anything during your radiotherapy, and it is

localised, it only affects the area that is being treated.

After your radiotherapy

Side effects from radiotherapy tend to begin within a week to two weeks into treatment, however this differs for everyone.

How to care for skin after radiotherapy treatment?

heart drawn into cream on knee
It's important to care for skin during radiotherapy

As a Therapy Radiographer, my patients can suffer with their skin after radiotherapy.

As radiotherapy treatment is accumulative, the skin will take a couple of weeks to repair itself after your last treatment.

Jasmin's radiotherapy skin care tips:

  • Pat the area dry, rather than rub with a towel, to minimise irritation.

  • Apply moisturiser morning and evening, and ensure the moisturiser is soaked in.

  • You can apply the moisturiser long term, to ensure the skin is nice and supple, and less dry and irritated. (Chemotherapy can also dry your skin out)

  • If the skin is broken, be careful not to use certain creams. It should say on the bottle on whether to use the moisturiser on broken skin.

  • Your skin – long term will be sensitive to the sun, and therefore you should use at least 30SPF on your skin, to ensure it is protected.

  • You may need to cover the area with clothing to protect it from the sun, during your treatment, and this may be after too.

  • If the skin is still sensitive, and needs shaving, use an electric shaver rather than a razor.

  • Be careful with tight clothing, looser cotton or linen fabrics may be more comfortable.


CancerPal stocks a range of products to help manage the side effects of radiotherapy in the CancerPal Marketplace, including a range of skin care products. If you're looking to support a loved one going through radiotherapy treatment, we have a range of Radiotherapy Care Boxes.



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