Radiotherapy care top tips !

We have recently pulled together a thread like this for people about to start chemo and I noticed radiotherapy is another area that raises a lot of questions !

I find it very useful if no one is around to point new people to it as it has is much more relevant coming from those who have experienced it !

Even if it’s just answers to the practical aspects of what to wear etc !

I would very much appreciate any input to make it relevant and a useful tool for others ! 
Also if you have a snapper title please say ! A team effort etc !

If you have other topics you think need covered please also say ! PM me or use the “ catch up thread “ if you don’t want to do it on here ! Or please feel free to start a thread ! You know what’s most relevant ! I can bookmark them and refer new people to them !

I will edit this to remove this part in the future !

Have a good day !



    Chemoradiotherapy is often used to shrink a rectal tumour before surgery and can be very effective. The effects continue for several weeks after the actual treatment has finished so there can often be an 8-10 wait before scans. The chemo part is usually a mild dose of capecitabine which enhances the effects of the radiotherapy and is taken in tablet form on the treatment days only. Although it’s now more than 5 years since my treatment heres what I remember.

    Pre-scanning appointment where you are tattooed with pinprick size dots (doesn’t hurt) which are used to line the machine up each day. I was given a bag full of ‘goodies’ like anti-sickness tablets, anti-diarrhoea tablets, dioralyte for dehydration, body wash and soothing ointment. Box of capecitabine - recommended not to touch so used to pop into an empty bottle top and take from there. Some of the tablets are quite big so used to pretend they were multi vitamins.

    Clothing - I was taken into a cubicle and given a gown. All clothing was placed in a basket and then carried to the treatment room. After treatment you carry your basket back to a cubicle and get dressed. The less to carry and remove/put back on the better especially if you have the full bladder and are hopping from foot to foot to get out to the toilets!

    Treatment rules seem to vary maybe depending on the position of the tumour? I had to lie on my tummy with a full bladder whereas my friend had to lie on her back with an empty bladder. The radiographers then squidge you into position so your dots are lined up correctly then they leave the room. The machine (which was in front of me) then whirls around like a giant compass, stops and clicks, then does it a bit more and you’re finished. I was told to use the body wash that they’d provided when showering and apply the cream that they’d given me to the area being treated to avoid any soreness. It’s important to avoid things like nappy rash cream as they may contain zinc oxide.

    Side effects are listed in the link at the top of the page. I found my feet started to feel a bit gritty from the chemo towards the end so made sure I moisturised them well - Aveeno with Shea Butter is usually recommended or Udder Cream.

    Top tips - get an early morning appointment to avoid any backlog from machine breakdowns. The actual treatment only takes 10-15 minutes but there can be a lot of waiting around for a machine and you darent go to the toilet because you know it will be your turn as soon as you come back then you’ll have to drink more water again.

    Ladies - radiotherapy can affect the vagina causing soreness, dryness and shrinkage. You may be supplied with a bag of dilators which can be used with a lubricant to help with this. 

    Talk to the radiographers if you have any worries or issues. If they can’t help you then they will find someone who can

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm
  • Just bumping this back up in case anyone has any tips they can add?

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm
  • Hi. When I had my chemoradiotherapy my skin became a bit irritated. One of the radiographers suggested I use Fairy washing pods/powder/liquid. My skin cleared up straight away. I tried the Udder Cream when I had my chemotherapy after surgery. I didn't like it, it was too runny. I found Dermalex Repair  + Restore very good though.


  • Hi Court - I'm new to the site and not quite sure how to raise a question so I'll start here in the hope that I'm doing something right! My sister has just completed a 5 week course of chemo radiation and is suffering from a range of side effects, mainly nausea and loss of appetite. I'm concerned about her not eating so I'm looking for info/hints/tips/advice on how she can make sure she gets the nutrition she needs.

    Thank you! 

  • Hi 

    Apologises as I have only seen your post ! How are you doing ?


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