The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

External Beam Radiotherapy

External Beam Radiotherapy 

External beam radiotherapy is the most common type of radiotherapy treatment. It is used to treat different types of cancer (tumours). The radiation comes from a machine (Linear Accelerator) which is outside of your body. External beam radiotherapy is painless and does not make you radioactive. You will be able to mix with friends and family (including children) whilst you are having your treatment.

You will have your radiotherapy on a treatment machine called a linear accelerator. You will be carefully positioned onto the couch of the linear accelerator by the therapy radiographers. When everything is in the correct place, the machine will deliver the correct amount of radiation to the tumour. The daily treatment takes a couple of minutes and does not hurt.

The number of treatments needed to treat the tumour varies depending on the type of cancer you have. Radiotherapy is normally given as an outpatient on a daily basis and delivered over a period of weeks. The radiotherapy department is open Monday to Fridays but some patients may have their treatments on weekends if thought necessary. You will be given a letter with the details of every appointment in the radiotherapy department.

It is sometimes necessary to make sure your bladder is full and your rectum is empty before we give a radiotherapy treatment. If this is the case, we will ask you to come to the radiotherapy department at a time before your treatment so we can ask you to drink some water or use a micro enema. Not every treatment needs this preparation. If you are not sure whether you need to come to the department at an earlier time than your treatment, please ask one of our staff who will be able to find out for you.