Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Radiation Oncology


Q. Is the radiotherapy painful?

A. Radiotherapy is painless - similar to having an x-ray. You will not feel or see anything, only hear the machine operating.

Q. How long does the radiotherapy take?
A. Each patient’s radiotherapy treatment plan is different so treatment can be anywhere from one to over thirty treatments, depending on what type of cancer you have. Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss the number of treatment sessions you require.
Each treatment session usually last for a few minutes. However, you may be lying on the radiotherapy bed for up to 30 minutes, with most of the time spent ensuring you are in the correct position.
Q. Do I have to come in on the weekends?
A. No. The department is only open from Monday to Friday.
Q. Can I be around people while having radiotherapy treatment?
A. Yes. The radiotherapy does not make you radioactive. It is therefore safe to be around people, including pregnant women and children.
Q. Are there any side effects of Radiotherapy?
A. There may be some side effects, and they will differ from patient to patient depending on the type of radiotherapy you are receiving. Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss the possible side effects with you and answer any questions you may have.
You will have weekly appointments with your Radiation Oncologist to review how you are progressing through your treatment. This is a good opportunity to raise any concerns you have about side effects. You can also ask the Radiation Therapists and/or Nursing staff at any time if you have concerns.
Q. Will the radiotherapy treatment burn me?
A. The radiotherapy treatment may cause changes to the skin including dry, red, itchy skin (in the treated area). Skin reactions tend to appear after about two weeks of treatment and may develop even further to become itchy and tender as the treatment continues. The skin reaction is similar to that of sunburn; it may become pink, and may feel warm to touch with mild discomfort.
Q. Will I lose my hair?
A. Hair loss only occurs in the treated area. It normally occurs after about two weeks of treatment and is usually temporary but may be permanent.
Q. Do I need to avoid any foods while having Radiotherapy treatment?
A. Unless you are having radiotherapy to head and neck or pelvis region then no. Please refer to types of cancer for more information or ask the radiotherapy team if you have any concerns.
Q. Can I keep taking my medicines?
A. Please bring a list of medications so your doctor can advise whether or not you can continue taking your medicines.
Please ask your Radiation Oncologist or Radiation Therapists if you have any other questions or concerns.