We work as a team very closely with the staff at the LGI, St James’s and other hospitals to give children and teenagers radiotherapy.
Children can have radiotherapy as their first line treatment (definitive), concurrent (with), following chemotherapy (consolidation) or palliative control.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
What is Radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy is the use of high energy ionising radiation (x-rays), which can be given very specifically to an area/areas that require it. The courses can range from a single treatment or several treatments given daily (excluding weekends) over several weeks.
What happens if your child requires radiotherapy?
Your doctor will tell you whether your child requires radiotherapy and also notify the Clinical Oncologist (Radiotherapy Doctor).
You will have an appointment to meet the Doctor in radiotherapy, alongside a Paediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, Paediatric Radiographer and a Play Specialist. The first appointment is to discuss what radiotherapy is, how it is given, how much treatment your child will require and side effects.
An appointment will be arranged so your child can have a ‘Buddy Session’ with some of the Radiographers and Play Specialist.
This is a preparation session to familiarise your child with the equipment and machines that we use; and with some of the staff. It is at this point also, where we can determine whether your child can tolerate treatment whilst being awake. If your child is unable to lie still and be left on the treatment bed alone, we may have to consider a general anaesthetic so your child is still at all times.
After the ‘buddy session’, your child will have a planning scan, this is a CT scan. The Doctors use this scan to carefully mark around the area/areas where your child will need treatment. After this, you will be invited back to sign a consent form to agree to the radiotherapy treatment.
A couple weeks following the planning scan, your child’s treatment will start. The first day is called Day Zero (a dummy run), which is where images of the treatment area are taken to ensure that positioning is correct. Your child will then have their treatment, every day excluding weekends for the length of time specified by the doctor.
Your child will have treatment and will not have to stay overnight. If you live a long way from the hospital, we can try to arrange for you to stay at Eckersley House (insert link) or the patient hotel in Bexley Wing (insert link). If you have no mode of transport to attend the appointments, we can arrange this for you. If you require transport, please inform the Nurse/Doctor.
Side effects depend on where your child is receiving radiotherapy. Some of the common side effects are skin reactions, nausea and vomiting, lethargy, constipation, diarrhoea and bone marrow suppression. Your doctor will explain to you what your side effects that your child may experience before you sign a consent form. The Doctor will be able to prescribe appropriate medicines to help with your child’s side effects. Jenny/Claire will see you every day and will be able to assess your child.
After treatment has completed, we will arrange appointments for you and your child to see the Doctor once a week (for 2-3 weeks) for follow up. This is to check that your child is well, that skin and other side effects from the treatment are not causing concerns. After the final follow up appointment, we then refer your child back to the LGI doctors who will have full details of the radiotherapy treatment.