Patients receiving radiotherapy at a GenesisCare centre are very welcome to visit before starting treatment. A visit beforehand can often help put patients’ minds at ease by providing an opportunity to meet the team responsible for their care, have their treatment explained and ask questions, as well viewing the treatment room and equipment.
At any time before, during or after treatment, patients or carers with any concerns or questions are encouraged to speak to a member of their care team who will be more than happy to help.
GenesisCare patients also provides access to a Living Well programme, which provides holistic and emotional support through a unique partnership with Penny Brohn Cancer Care.
The length of a whole treatment is dependent on the type of cancer and is decided by a consultant oncologist. Once prescribed, a complete external beam radiotherapy dose is broken down into small doses, called fractions, which are usually delivered daily.
There is a two day break each week, generally at weekends (although this may vary from time to time), which allows any healthy cells, which grow at a slower rate than cancerous ones, time to repair themselves.
Although the complexity of each treatment will vary, on average, each daily appointment is around 20 to 30 minutes and around 20 minutes of this time is spent on the LINAC, which is the machine that delivers the small doses of radiation.
The LINAC, or linear accelerator, is a state-of-the-art piece of equipment which moves quietly around the patient delivering precisely calculated doses of radiation. There is nothing to see or feel during the treatment. – just a slight buzzing noise from the machine and patients are welcome to play music on an iPod if they like.
During treatment, patients can wear a gown or their own clothes; however, clothing needs to be removed from the area receiving the radiotherapy.
Once the radiographers have positioned the patient onto the couch, they will leave the room. However, they can see and hear the patient at all times via a CCTV camera and they can communicate with the patient through an intercom.
Patients are not ‘radioactive’ after treatment and there is no risk to patients’ family and friends.
Treatment can cause specific side effects depending on the area of the body being treated. Patients may experience tiredness and may require more time than usual to complete everyday tasks.
Where possible, GenesisCare encourages regular routines and that patients keep life as normal as possible, and therefore will strive to offer appointment times to suit each patients’ day-to-day needs.
Each GenesisCare centre has allocated, free parking for patients and any issues with getting to and from the centre daily can be discussed with the oncologist or the centre team, who will do what they can to help.