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Radiotherapy

Our radiotherapy department has the latest technology combined with specialist clinical expertise to offer the most up-to-date and targeted treatments.

We provide a full spectrum of radiotherapy services and were one of the first centres in the country to implement some of the newest technologies, most notably to treat brain tumours and breast cancer more effectively.

As one of our private patients receiving radiotherapy you will benefit from a highly-skilled team of oncologists, radiotherapists, specialists nurses and other clinical experts who work closely to deliver the best in innovative, patient-focused care.

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy uses x-rays to destroy cancer cells in the treated area of the body and is usually given externally using a machine called a linear accelerator. It can also be given inside the body when radioactive material is placed near the tumour (known as brachytherapy).

Your consultant and medical team will carefully tailor treatment to you and will discuss with you whether radiotherapy, and which type of radiotherapy, is an appropriate option.

Latest technology

Our radiotherapy team prides itself on being able to offer the latest in technological developments at our unit at Charing Cross Hospital.

We can now target your cancer far more accurately with the introduction of two new state-of-the-art machines called Varian TrueBeam linear accelerators which we use with advanced 3-dimensional imaging to target x-rays very precisely to the tumour.

This makes radiotherapy more effective and sometimes quicker and with less damage to healthy cells. In some case, we can also adjust your treatment plan for the best possible results by closely monitoring any changes in the tumour as a result of radiotherapy.

Your treatment with radiotherapy

The type of radiotherapy you have will depend on the type of cancer and your consultant-led team will discuss this with you. The main treatments are:

Conformal radiotherapy
This is used for many types of cancer and shapes the x-ray beams highly accurately to fit the treatment area, reducing side effects.

Image guided radiotherapy (IGRT)
This is a type of conformal radiotherapy when images are taken before and during treatment to target the tumour accurately. This is used in all areas of the body and can be particularly useful in areas such as the lungs which move during breathing.

Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
This shapes the radiotherapy very closely around the tumour by aiming beams from many different directions. This lowers the dose to nearby healthy cells and can be particularly helpful in treating head and neck cancer and spinal cord cancer.

Cranial stereotactic radiotherapy or radiosurgery
This highly complex treatment directs beams very precisely from many angles to very small areas of the body. We use this treatment for small, well-defined brain tumours such as acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas and haemangioblastomas or secondary brain tumours where the cancer has spread from elsewhere in the body, and to treat spinal cord cancer.

Heart-sparing radiotherapy for breast cancer and lung cancer
Our breast cancer radiotherapy team is very active in developing new techniques and our unit at Charing Cross Hospital was one of the first in the UK to offer heart-sparing radiotherapy as a routine treatment.

Patients are trained to hold their breath briefly at a particular level during treatment. This reduces the movement of the tumour in the chest for a few seconds which means lower-dose radiotherapy can be given to minimise radiotherapy to any heart tissue.

Brachytherapy
Our brachytherapy service at Hammersmith Hospital treats gynaecological cancers such as cervical cancer and womb cancer. It involves placing applicators inside the womb or vagina and the treatment is inserted inside the applicators.

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More information on the following conditions

We also treat bladder cancer, cancer of unknown primary, cancer of the liver, cancer of the gallbladder and bile ducts, pancreatic cancer, 
prostate cancer, skin cancer, trophoblastic disease and urological cancers.