Rough Guide – Radiotherapy Myth Buster #19

fry suspicious

According to a poster in the main waiting area of Springfield CC Radiotherapy unit 52% of people with cancer living in the UK could benefit from Radiotherapy & yet the uptake is only 38% .

The poster is essentially a “Myth Buster”. It’s interesting, informative & clearly states that people may decline because they are misinformed about Radiotherapy;  but I can’t help seeing the irony of its location. After all, it will be of absolutely no use to the 14% of people who decline to have radiotherapy as part of their cancer treatment & will never set foot over the threshold to read it…

hiroshima-nagasakiWhile it may not be cut & dried that fear alone makes them make the decision, it is likely that it has a part to play. I am pretty certain that referring to it as Nuclear Medicine, the cause of Marie Curie’s death & the effects of the appalling events at Hiroshima & Nagasaki are deep in the hive consciousness & contribute to the fear factor…




I’ve mentioned the  wheelbarrow of information Springfield CC give you previously (a lot of which you get at your first visit to see the Oncologist, but strangely  it doesn’t include a Radiotherapy Myth Buster? I wondered whether or not they only give this out to people who decide not to have it, reasoning that if you consent you won’t have any of these anxities. So I decided to check the patient information on their website . There is nothing there.

It’s a pity, because this may be a missed opportunity to inform & reassure people who are reluctant to go ahead because they just don’t know the facts from the fiction.

Even for those of us who take the plunge, there may still anxieties or misapprehensions.

Personally, I did wonder (especially when it comes to the Brachy Radiotherapy) whether there would be any smell during it. As someone who has worked in operating theatres in the past, it was a serious question: after all diathermy does smell. I was so glad that I asked the question, because I was reassured that no it doesn’t & furthermore if it did there would be something seriously wrong with treatment delivery & the Planning & Delivery Radiographers would be sacked!

So I decided to do a bit of research & use this # as a Myth Buster . Interestingly, a question which I didn’t ask, but is in the Springfield information suite had a slightly different answer when I looked at the Canadian Radiotherapy Myth Buster leaflet. (I will come back to that one at the end of this #)

Here goes then!



Radioactive_Waste_TagNot true. Treatment for Prostate or Breast Cancer may involve implanting small “seeds” however, while some precautions are necessary for people having this type of treatment no-one is ever “radioactive” !




No they don’t! Radiation doesn’t glow in the dark, so you certainly won’t… mr burns

(On a flippant note I should say that I & a number of my friends & frolleagues have made silly references to this, including expressions of disappointment that it isn’t true)




homer_haircutRadiotherapy is very carefully targeted to the area needing treatment so any hair loss will be limited to the exact spot. In my case I don’t feel I need to spell it out, other than to say that some women & men pay a fortune to have it done in beauty salons!!



4. WILL FEEL THE RADIATION BEING GIVEN **homer-simpson-chili-pepper-top-chef-0904_41

It isn’t something that you should worry about. Most people feel nothing at all, although some report a slight tingling sensation or warmth.



first aid

Radiotherapy is carefully planned for each person to target the cancer cells & limit exposure of healthy cells as much as possible. Healthy cells close will be damaged but are able to recover.



** This is the one which I didn’t ask about & wasn’t in the patient information. I decided not to say anything because I didn’t want them to think I was bonkers! On reflection, now I wish I had… no stupid questions

Holly xx

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