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London sarcoma service

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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what to expect


treatment - radiotherapy

Radiotherapy treats cancer by using high-energy rays, which destroy the cancer cells while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells. Radiotherapy may be used as part of treatment for both soft tissue sarcomas and bone sarcomas. It involves being treated for a few minutes everyday, except weekends, usually for several weeks. The number of treatments will depend on the type, size and position of the cancer within your body, but the whole course of treatment for early cancer will usually last about 6 weeks. Radiotherapy is given in the Radiotherapy Department at University College Hospital, which is located in the basement of the hospital.

Your doctor will discuss the aims and side effects of radiotherapy with you in clinic. Before treatment can be started it must be planned. If your tumour is in a limb you will need to have an immobilisation cast made to keep the limb still, so that you will be treated in exactly the same position every day. This is made in the mould room. You will then have a CT scan wearing the cast, which is used to plan the radiotherapy. This process takes 2 - 3 weeks, which is why radiotherapy does not start immediately. During radiotherapy you will be seen every week by one of radiotherapy nurses, and at regular intervals by a doctor, to monitor for side effects.