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Radiotherapy Glossary


Aqueous Cream A water based cream which we advise you use to moisturize the treatment area while you are having radiotherapy.

Anti-emetic Medication Anti-sickness medication for relief of nausea/vomiting.


Benign Not malignant; does not have the ability to invade and metastatise.

Bolus A jelly-like tissue-equivalent substance which may be placed on your skin during treatment.


Catheter A thin and flexible tube inserted into the bladder which assists bladder emptying.

Chemotherapy The treatment of cancer using cytotoxic drugs.

Conformal Radiotherapy A radiotherapy technique where the radiotherapy beams are shaped to replicate the outline of the structure being treated. This technique helps avoid radiation treatment to healthy tissues.

Consent (Informed) is your agreement to have treatment after discussing your options and treatment side effects with your doctor. An agreement to undergo the proposed treatment following discussion with your doctor regarding the facts of treatment options and possible risks/benefits of the proposed treatment.

Consultant Oncologist A doctor who has specialist oncology qualifications.

Couch (Treatment) The bed you lie on for planning, scans and treatment.

Computer Tomography (CT) A type of scan used to take images of your internal anatomy. A scan that gathers information about your internal organs to generate a set of images.

Concurrent Therapy Given at the same time as another treatment.

Cytotoxic means toxic to cells.


Dietician A health professional qualified to advise you on all aspects of nutrition.

Dose (of radiation) The amount of radiation you receive. The prescribed amount of radiation for treatment.

Dosimetrist A specialist who devises a treatment plan for the appropriate delivery of the prescribed dose of radiation.


Electrons A type of radiation used to treat superficial tumours.

Electron boost An additional dose to a small area of your treatment field, for example a scar or tumour bed.


Field (of treatment) The area being treated from a certain angle. A group of treatment fields make up the treatment area. (The area defined for delivery of treatment.)

Fraction An individual treatment. A number of fractions make up a treatment schedule/ course. An individual dose of radiation.


Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) is the use of imaging to verify target position prior to treatment.

Immobilization A method used by Radiation Therapists to ensure your position is reproducible for daily treatment. Foam cushions and solid boards are used to facilitate this positioning. The use of apparatus to maintain an appropriate position for treatment delivery.

Intensity Modulated (IMRT) is a type of conformal radiotherapy where Radiotherapy high doses of radiotherapy are delivered to the treatment area whilst sparing as much surrounding healthy tissue as possible.

In-patient A patient who is staying in the hospital for more than one day.

Ionizing radiation A type of high-energy radiation which causes cell damage.


Lasers Wall-mounted lights used in radiotherapy to facilitate treatment positioning.

Linear accelerator The machine used to deliver radiotherapy

Localization Defining the exact treatment area.


Malignant The ability to develop metastasis.

Medical Oncologist A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy and other biological therapies.

Metastases The spread of cancer from the site it originated in to other parts of the body.


Oncology Anything cancer related.

Organs at risk (OAR’s) Radiation sensitive organs which are in close proximity to the treatment area.


Palliative Care The treatment where the intent is to improve quality. The management of the symptoms of disease to improve quality of life.

Patient pathway A typical patient journey within the radiotherapy department.

Permanent marks/tattoos Ink marks used to facilitate treatment positioning.

Pharmacy Where prescribed medications can be dispensed.

Phlebotomy Where blood tests are performed.

Photons A type of external beam radiotherapy used to treat deep seated tumours. It is high energy radiation.

Prescription The amount of radiation you receive and the number of days over which you should receive it. This is determined by your consultant.


Radiation Oncologist A doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer using radiation.

Radiation Physicist Ensures the treatment machine delivers the appropriate amount of radiation in the correct manner over the course of treatment.

Radiation Therapist A healthcare professional who delivers radiotherapy.

Radical Treatment Treatment where the intent is to cure cancer.

Radiologist A doctor who specializes in interpreting images of the body such as that of a CT scan or x-ray.

Radiotherapy The use of ionizing radiotherapy to treat disease.

Radiotherapy shell A positioning devise used for head and neck and brain patients. It is made of a light plastic material.

Review clinics Weekly appointments where you are seen by your consultant in the radiotherapy department.


Staging (of a Tumour) The definition of the tumour size and extent.

Superficial radiotherapy Treatment to tumours which are close to or on the skin surface.


Treatment card/chart/sheet The paper record of your treatment.

Treatment plan The defined method of delivering the radiotherapy compiled using each individual patient’s CT scan.

Tumour is the growth of cancerous cells. A growth of cells which can be malignant or benign.


Verification The process of checking and confirming treatment position and plan.


An x-ray is a plain radiographic image used to verify treatment position. A plain radiographic image…