Planning scan

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Hi. Can anyone tell me what happens at the planning scan? I’m due to have mine tomorrow and I’m feeling extremely anxious. I’m due to have my 4th chemotherapy this week, and straight in to radiotherapy after the 6th week. 

  • Hi  

    It’s really straightforward, so please try not to worry. It’s a CT scan, so not enclosed. You lie there while the scanner moves and then the staff mark three tiny dots on your skin-I had one on each hip and one at the top of my pubic bone. These don’t come off, so when you are having radiotherapy the machine can line everything up exactly for treatment. It’s not painful to have the dots done and they are tiny.

    I was sent away when they first tried to do mine as they said my bowel was too full, so I had to take a suppository and go back the next day, so I’d suggest you make sure you’ve had a poo before your scan! 

    The scan doesn’t take long to do at all, so honestly please try not to be anxious about it.

    How have you got on with your chemo? Hope it’s been ok for you. It’s a tough slog for you having chemo first and then going into radiotherapy but it’s amazing how soon it will all be over with. All the best.

    Sarah xx


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  • I’m actually ok with the chemo. I feel fine. Some days I feel a little bit tired and irritable. But really, I’m carrying on! I’m working and looking after the kids and doing everything I could do before. I’m not even constipated, I do go most days. I think what I’ll do is take a dulcolax if I haven’t gone in the morning but it’s unlikely I won’t have. 

    im really hoping that all of this will hurry up. It feels like it’s dragging, I’m panicking about brachytherapy too but holding out hope that by the time I get there it’ll be gone or I’ll only need one blast instead of an entire week in hospital (I have tomophobia and honestly brachy is my worst nightmare come true). 

  • That’s amazing you’ve kept working and looking after your family too. It’s good to hear you’ve been coping so well.

    I have never in my 5 years of dealing with cervical cancer and speaking to many other ladies ever come across a single person who has needed a whole week in hospital for brachytherapy.

    Mine was scheduled as an inpatient-going in on a Tuesday and out on the Thursday, but in the event I wasn’t able to have it at all. I wasn’t looking forward to it but was devastated I couldn’t have it, as it’s a really good final hit to this cancer. Most ladies say it wasn’t as bad as they imagined it would be. Sometimes our imaginations get the better of us! 


    Sarah xx


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  • My oncologist said it would be a week but I am honestly hoping it won’t be that. I just can’t imagine it, I’ll be so traumatised. Its the worst of my worst nightmares with my tomophobia. 

  • I think it would be a really good idea when you go for your radiotherapy that you ask for clarification on what type of brachytherapy is done at your hospital and ask how long it takes.

    Depending on your hospital and its equipment, brachytherapy can be done in 2 different ways-the type that I would have had is typically done over 1-2 days.

    I understand your anxiety over the treatment is very bad, so it might helpful to find out how long it would take for your case.

    I have been involved in lots of cancer groups and forums over the years, and have spoken to hundreds of women. No one has ever said it took a week. Usually information about brachytherapy comes from the radiotherapy department, and they are the experts who can confirm. Oncologists manage chemo treatment so it’s better to speak to radiotherapy staff. 

    Sarah xx


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  • Thank you. My oncologist did say it would be a Monday to Friday thing. In on Monday, apparatus in. Wheeled to scan. Wheeled to treatment. Wheeled to ward. Repeat for 4 days, then maybe go home Friday or Saturday. I hope it isn’t the case and they just tell you the absolute worst it could be and then it might not be that at all. 

    I wonder if they’ll tell me if the tumour has shrunk after my planning scan? I’ll ask them if they’ll tell me. It would be nice to know this is all working. 

  • Normally it’s your consultant who gives you that kind of information. I’ve never had the nurses involved in radiotherapy give me any information as they are not trained in reading scans. For me, they did the planning scan, and were there at every session of course to position me on the table for treatment, but they were all nurses and different to radiologists who read scans. 

    I don’t know if you’ll be told anything tomorrow, but be prepared for them not being able to tell you anything because they might not know. You will be scanned just prior to the brachytherapy starting, so it’s more likely you might know more at that point, as you’ll have been through all of your radiotherapy treatment then. 

    Sarah xx


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  • Thanks Sarah. I’m hoping my oncologist will let me know if it’s smaller. I’m eager to know that all of this awfulness is doing something at least. Round 4 of chemo this week, 2 more after that. Then straight into radio and cisplatin. Did you make 5 goes with the cisplatin? My oncologist says it’s unlikely I will because most women start to have effects on their hearing after 2/3/4 

  • I managed 4 Cisplatin, but it was nothing to do with my hearing, which wasn’t affected at all. I had low neutrophils (white blood cells) at my blood test before my last chemo, so it was decided not to give me it.

    I was told it shouldn’t have a big effect overall on treatment and many ladies don’t manage all 5 treatments. With chemoradiation, the radiation is the main treatment, with the Cisplatin chemo at a low dose to enhance the effects of the radiotherapy. 

    Sarah xx


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