FAQ’s

How do I find the Radiotherapy Department?

The Oncology and Radiotherapy department is well sign-posted in the hospital.
Enter through the main entrance.
Take a left at the main reception.
Take the next left at the radiology reception.
Take the next right after the radiology reception.
Continue straight on to the end of the corridor.
Radiotherapy is at the end of this corridor.
Click here for maps & directions

Parking

Complimentary car parking on the hospital grounds is available for patients attending the Radiotherapy Department. Staff at the reception in Radiotherapy will stamp your parking ticket daily.

Referral

Your Surgeon, Medical Oncologist or Multi-Disciplinary Team may refer you to our Consultant Radiation Oncologists. You will see your Consultant either at the Hermitage Medical Clinic’s Oncology Department or at another Outpatient clinic and he/she may refer you to the Hermitage Medical Clinic’s radiotherapy department.

You may bring a family member or friend to attend your consultations with you for support or to help you remember the advice or instructions given. Ensure to questions if you are confused or concerned.

Insurance

VHI Plan B, C, D, E and their equivalent

  • Quinn Healthcare
  • Hibernian Aviva Health
  • Garda Medical Aid
  • Prison Officers Association
  • Defence Forces
  • ESB

Please check your insurance policy as it may be subject to an excess

What is RT?

Radiotherapy uses targeted x-rays to treat tumour cells.

How does it work?

Radiotherapy works by damaging the cells in the area we are treating. The aim of radiotherapy is to cause as much damage as possible to cancer cells and as little damage as possible to healthy cells.

The radiation damages the hydrogen bonds which holds cell DNA together, thus preventing them from growing and developing. Radiotherapy is fractionated (delivered daily over a number of weeks) because healthy cells are able to recover from small amounts of radiation damage. They repair themselves and continue dividing. Unhealthy cancer cells are unable to recover from radiation damage and therefore they are destroyed.

Is it safe?

Yes, it is safe. Your radiotherapy plan is configured by the radiotherapy team which includes your consultant, radiation therapists and medical physicists. We operate under the radiation protection policy of “as low as reasonably practicable” which means that we aim to irradiate as many cancer cells as possible while minimizing the number of healthy cells irradiated. Each radiotherapy plan is unique to each patient. There are numerous weekly and daily checks performed during your treatment and the machines used to treat you are quality checked daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Your course of Radiotherapy is monitored throughout your treatment by the Consultants, Radiation Therapists, Physicists and Dosimetrists to ensure the highest standard of quality assurance.

Who will be looking after me?

You will see the Radiation Therapists daily and your consultant weekly while you are on radiotherapy. If you are having difficulty contact us 01-6459045. For emergencies outside of radiotherapy hours please call the Hermitage Medical Clinic on 01-6459000.

Hospital Stay

You may have to stay in hospital during your treatment. This measure may be precautionary, particularly if you are also having chemotherapy treatments. If during your treatment you have a severe treatment reaction then you may need to be admitted to the hospital but continue having your treatment as an inpatient. Your progress and side effects progression will be monitored daily by the radiation therapists and weekly by your consultant.

Pregnancy Status (if applicable)

It is very important that you do not become pregnant before or during your radiotherapy. You will need to use contraception while you are on treatment if you are of child-bearing age and if you are sexually active. Your hospital or family doctor can give you advice on contraception, family planning or Well Woman Clinics will also advise you. If you think you may be pregnant please inform the Radiation Therapist or Consultant as soon as possible.

Pacemaker Dependency

It is very important that you tell the Radiation Therapists if you have a pacemaker, especially if you are dependant upon it. The staff will need to monitor you pacemaker during your treatment if that is the case.

Diet

The Hermitage Medical Clinic Radiotherapy Team recommends you drink 2 liters of water daily and maintain a healthy balanced diet prior to you your treatment. There are specific recommendations for particular treatments for example we have a Rectal Preparation Policy for Prostate Treatments which must be started a week prior to your

CT scan and treatment and continues until your side effects have fully subsided.

Consultations during RT

Your consultant will see you weekly during your radiotherapy treatment to monitor your progress and any side effects you may be experiencing.

I have just had a CT. Is this one necessary?

This CT scan is performed for radiotherapy planning purposes only. This scan is different to normal CT scans as you must be positioned in a particular way that is suitable for your individual treatment; using immobilization devices. This position must be reproducible for your daily treatment. The scan collects images of your internal anatomy from the area we intend to treat, which facilitates the planning process of your treatment.

What to bring on day 1?

Insurance details and a list of the medication you are currently taking.

What happens on day 1?

On your first day check in at Radiotherapy reception. The receptionist will let the Radiation Therapists know that you have arrived. The Radiation Therapist will give you a first day chat prior to your treatment. In this meeting you will discuss the specific side effects expected from your treatment and the treatment procedure on Day 1.

How long does it take?

Your first appointment will be longer than the usual 15 minutes. It may take from 20 to 45 minutes as there are more checks which need to be done and the Radiation Therapists will be familiarizing themselves with your particular set up. Your treatment will become marginally quicker during your first week and from then on last for 15 minutes approximately.

Appointment times: scheduling, delays, changes

The Radiotherapy Department is open weekdays from 8.30 until 17.00 only. The department aims to run on time where possible but sometimes delays are inevitable with technical machine faults and/or patient illness or distress.

Do I have to come every day?

Yes, depending on your treatment schedule which is decided by your consultant, you may have to come for one single treatment or a course of treatment which is daily for a number of weeks excluding weekends.

TITA policy

If during your treatment you need to take a break due to your treatment reaction, the Radiation Therapists may put additional treatment appointments on your schedule to make up for absence. If you have a severe treatment reaction your course of radiotherapy may be finished earlier than expected. This will be discussed between you and your consultant.

Sick at the weekend what do I do?

Contact your GP, A&E, Doctor on call or make a hospital appointment.

Side effects, can you feel them?

You do not feel anything while the radiotherapy treatment is been given. Your side effects tend to begin mid-way through you treatment and then progress gradually until 2-3 weeks after treatment is completed. Your side effects should have subsided by your follow up appointment.

Am I radioactive?

No, you are not radioactive after having treatment as we are treating you with external beam radiation x-rays.

Smoking and alcohol policy

The radiotherapy treatment can dehydrate you causing you to be tired and lethargic. By smoking and/or drink alcohol excessively during your treatment you are intensifying this side effect. Smoking in particular will intensify your side effects for example your skin reaction and increase the length of recovery time once treatment has completed. We recommend that you avoid smoking and/or drinking alcohol as much as possible during treatment.

Can I drive?

You can drive while you are having radiotherapy, however if you are traveling long distances to come for your treatment and become very tired especially towards the end of your treatment, it may be advisable to ask a family member or friend to drive you to your appointments.

Hair loss

The radiotherapy treatment is localized, which means that we only treat the affected area, for example for a prostate treatment we treat the pelvic area. Therefore, you will only loose hair in that region. As long as the area being treated is not on the hair line the likelihood is that it will grow back over time.

Make-up, perfume, hair dye, perm

The radiotherapy treatment is localized, which means that we only treat the affected area, for example for a prostate treatment we treat the pelvic area. Therefore if you are having a breast treatment you can wear make-up, dye your hair or get a perm, however you should avoid using perfume/other cosmetics on your chest/neck area as it may be in the treatment field. If you are unsure about anything please consult with your radiation therapists during or before your treatment if you have any further questions.

Sunbathing

We advise that you avoid sitting out in the sun for long periods of time while you are having radiotherapy as it will make you more dehydrated and therefore tired. After you have completed radiotherapy your treatment area is going to be more sun sensitive. We advise that you keep the treatment field covered up where possible when you are out in the sun and wear the highest factor sun cream. During and after your radiotherapy treatment, we advise that you avoid exposing the treated area to strong sun or extreme temperatures. Radiotherapy can cause changes to the skin making it more sensitive especially in the first 12months after treatment. It is advisable to use a high factor sun block (at least factor 30).

Holidays how long after treatment for booking?

Avoid making plans immediately after treatment as radiotherapy continues working and you will have a follow up appointment 4-6 weeks after you have completed radiotherapy treatment.

Complementary therapy

ARC house offers a drop-in service with complementary therapies such as relaxation techniques, stress management, art and writing therapy, cancer workshops, massage, reflexology, and counseling. If you wish to avail of these complementary therapies consult with your Radiation Therapists or your Consultant to check their compatibility with radiotherapy treatment.

What happens at end?

You will have a follow up appointment 4-6 weeks after you have completed radiotherapy treatment. You will either be given this appointment by the radiotherapy receptionist who schedules you treatment appointments or your consultant’s secretary will send the appointment letter in the post. This letter will arrive approximately 2 weeks after you have completed treatment. If the letter has not arrived contact the radiotherapy department.

Questions & Concerns

Please contact the radiotherapy team if you are worried about your side effects progressing or if you have any other concerns.

If you experience any of the following: persistent pain after pain management, lumps, bumps, swellings, unexplained weight loss/gain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, appetite loss, unusual bruising, rashes, bleeding, fever/cough not subsiding, unusual symptoms; contact the Radiotherapy Department or alternatively your GP, your Consultant, A&E, Doctor on call or make a hospital appointment.