Find out what to expect when you come to hospital for your radiotherapy appointment.

Radiotherapy Welcome Evenings at Charing Cross Hospital

We were one of the first departments nationally to develop ‘welcome evenings’ for patients who are preparing for radiotherapy treatment. Twice a month, we invite patients and their families to visit the radiotherapy department to introduce them to radiotherapy and ask any questions about the treatment. We created this program to provide patients with a practical introduction to radiotherapy treatment and hopefully, to alleviate some of their fears about the treatment.

Radiotherapy ‘Welcome Evenings’ are held twice a month on Thursdays in the radiotherapy department at Charing Cross Hospital from 18.00 to 19.00. These sessions are provided by radiographers and former patients who have experienced radiotherapy treatment, all of whom are working on a voluntary basis. The sessions include:

  • a tour of the department to familiarise you with the facilities available for your care
  • a demonstration of a treatment machine and a typical treatment procedure
  • an opportunity to meet members of the radiotherapy team
  • a 3D 'virtual' presentation to demonstrate a typical treatment
  • a chance to ask the radiographers and patient volunteer any questions you may have

No appointment is necessary and the open evenings are very informal. Just come along on the most suitable date for you. Friends and relatives are also welcome.

For future dates of the welcome evenings, please contact the radiotherapy department on 020 3311 1737.

Before your appointment

You should expect to receive a phone call with your appointment details within 48 hours of your consultant submitting a referral for radiotherapy. You are welcome to bring a relative, close friend or carer with you to your appointment, but in order to retain the privacy and dignity of other patients, your companions may be asked to wait in the main waiting area when you are called to the treatment machines.

You are welcome to ask for a chaperone to be present in the treatment room while you are being positioned for treatment but the chaperone will be asked to leave the room whilst treatment is delivered. Many of our radiographers, medical staff and students are male, so if you wish to be treated by just female or just male staff, please let the radiographers know. We will do our best to accommodate your request.

We suggest you wear older clothes, particularly to your planning session, because staff will need to put pen marks on your skin to identify the area for treatment, and the ink may rub off on your clothes. The ink will eventually fade – there is no need to replace the ink marks yourself. You will be asked to remove any clothing that covers the area requiring treatment – gowns and changing cubicles will be made available to you. We will provide you with specific instructions if there is anything else you need to do before your appointment.

During your appointment

Please note that we are a teaching hospital, so medical students and radiotherapy students may be present for some appointments. If you do not wish to have them in the room please let the radiographers know and the students will be asked to step outside.

We aim to see you within 30 minutes, but delays occasionally occur – we will keep you informed of these. Generally, appointments take 15 to 30 minutes, but please allow up to 90 minutes for your planning appointment, as you will have the opportunity to discuss your treatment with your radiographer, and you should allow plenty of time for questions.
Your first appointment will be your planning appointment, during which your radiographer will explain the treatment to you and give you the chance to ask any questions. You will then be given a CT scan, where we will take x-rays of the area of the body to be treated. We will use these images to create a personalised three-dimensional treatment plan for you.

During your subsequent treatment appointments, a radiographer will again explain the treatment and position you carefully on the treatment couch using the marks and measurements from the planning sessions. You will be asked to keep still and breathe normally. The radiographer will then leave the room to switch on the machine, and then watch your treatment closely on a television monitor. Rest assured that the treatment is painless and only takes a few minutes.

While the radiotherapy itself is painless, some patients develop side effects with the treatment. Doctors and team members will discuss all possible side effects with you before starting treatment. Most side effects are temporary and manageable with the support of the clinical team.

After your appointment

After the initial CT planning appointment, you will be given the start date for your radiotherapy treatment appointments. On the last day of your radiotherapy you will be told about a follow-up appointment with your doctor. You will also be given written information to take away with you. The follow-up appointment will normally be about four to six weeks after the end of treatment.

Patient facilities and resources

Questions about treatment side effects?
We have a team of nurses and review radiographers available to support you through your treatment. Alternatively, you can speak to your dedicated clinical nurse specialist, who can be contacted through the Macmillan navigator service.

  • Radiographer review team: 020 3311 8804
  • Radiotherapy nurse: 020 3313 0706
  • Radiotherapy reception telephone: 020 3311 1737 (08.00 to 18.00, Monday through Friday)

For urgent medical advice outside working hours, please contact the on-call clinical oncology (radiotherapy) registrar.
Phone: 020 3311 7866

Macmillan navigators

As part of the Macmillan Cancer Support and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust partnership, we’ve introduced the Macmillan cancer navigators service.

Macmillan navigators offer a single phone contact for all cancer patients. They can help with booking appointments, accessing local support services and finding answers to any questions. Please call the Macmillan navigators team with any questions you have about your cancer care. Learn more about Macmillan navigators.

Patient information leaflets