Useful Questions to Ask Your Consultant

Example questions – patients to consultants

General questions prior to treatment

Can you please explain how the radiotherapy works i.e. how does it attack the cancer and why is it the best option for my type of cancer?

What are the benefits of the treatment you are advising me to have?

What are the success rates for this treatment – nationally and for this hospital?

Will radiotherapy cure my cancer or relieve the symptoms?

Am I having external or internal radiotherapy and can you please explain why?

What are the risks, if any, of this treatment?

What are the risks if I decide not to have this treatment?

Is there an alternative treatment?

Actual treatment

How long will each individual treatment take, how many will I need per week and for how many weeks (i.e. how many treatments will I need in total?)

What will the treatment be like and how long will it take?

Can you explain exactly what will happen before and during treatment?

Is the treatment area going to be marked on my skin with ink? (i.e. should I wear ‘old’ clothes)

After treatment

How will I feel immediately after treatment?

What are the side effects of the radiotherapy treatment I am having? Is there anything I can do to alleviate/avoid them?

How will my doctor know if my treatment has worked?


What kind of clothes should I wear?

Will I need to stay in the hospital?

How will treatment affect my life e.g. regular activities, driving, relationships, exercise, and diet?

Will I need to take any special precautions e.g. stay out of the sun

When will I need follow-up appointments and for how long?

Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns, during my treatment or once my treatment has finished?


Example Questions Answered

What are the side effects of radiotherapy treatment?

The side effects of radiotherapy are dependent on the area of the body receiving treatment and also vary from person to person. Some people may have a number of side effects while others have very few or none at all. Any potential side effects of radiotherapy depend on the area being treated and are generally experienced towards the end of the course, and sometimes for a few weeks afterwards. Expected side effects depend on the type of cancer and where it is, what treatment is being used and whether the aim is to cure or manage the cancer.

What causes side effects of radiotherapy treatment?

Side effects of radiotherapy occur when, as well as the tumour that is being targeted, healthy tissue is damaged and local inflammation or a reaction occurs.

Does radiotherapy treatment hurt?

There is nothing to see or feel during the treatment. It’s very similar to having an X-Ray or CT scan taken.  There is a buzzing noise from the machine and patients may wish to have music played to help ignore the sound.

How long does radiotherapy treatment take?

Treatments usually last around 8-15 minutes, the length of the treatment will depend on the body area to be treated and the type and the complexity of the treatment.

How will radiotherapy treatment affect my day-to-day life?

Treatment can cause specific side effects depending on the area of the body being treated. Treatment can also cause tiredness and this can mean that you will need to take more time to complete everyday tasks and may need to take regular breaks. It is good for your well-being if you can continue regular routines and life as normal

Can my friends and family come with me?

You should assume that friends and family can attend with you for any consultations as well as treatment as any support is usually welcome. However, they will probably not be able to come into the room where the actual radiotherapy treatment takes place.

What kind of clothes should I wear?

You should be able to wear anything you feel comfortable in but please bear in mind that any clothes that cover the area that is to be treated will need to be removed.

Is there any risk to my family during or after radiotherapy treatment?

No, there is no risk and you will not be radioactive, however if you are having internal brachytherapy radioactive implants ask the consultant how long the implants will be in for as the radiation emitted by them can make you dangerous to other people

Am I alone during radiotherapy treatment?

Patients are alone during treatment; however the radiographers can see and hear them at all times.