The Children’s Hospital is equipped with the very latest radiotherapy equipment including Linear Accelerators, which allow higher doses of radiation to treat tumours with millimetre accuracy. We also have access to the CyberKnife, a painless treatment that delivers high doses of targeted radiation to treat conditions that can’t normally be treated.
What does radiotherapy involve?
Radiotherapy is the use of high energy rays to destroy cancer cells without damaging the healthy cells around them. It is usually given in the specialist radiotherapy department during short daily sessions spread over a few weeks.
Each radiotherapy treatment takes around 15 minutes, during which your child will lie on a comfortable treatment bed. Although they will be left alone in the room, they will be able to talk to you and the radiographer.
Although radiotherapy isn’t painful, your child does need to lie very still just for a few minutes during treatment. If he or she is very young, and/or finds it difficult to stay still during treatment, they may be given an anaesthetic to make them sleep during the procedure.
Are there any side-effects?
Your child’s specialist will be able to discuss possible side-effects with you and your child, as these can vary from person to person (please do not hesitate to ask questions in relation to your child’s care/treatment). However, many children feel tired during radiotherapy and sometimes for several weeks afterwards. They may not feel as hungry as usual so it is a good idea to offer them small regular snacks rather than larger meals. If your child feels sick during or after radiotherapy, the specialist may give them medication to help them feel better.
Your child may be offered regular blood tests following radiotherapy to check their blood cell levels, as the treatment can affect the bone marrow. If blood cell levels are low, this can make your child feel more tired than usual and a blood transfusion may be required in some cases.