Delivering specialised radiation oncology
treatment for 60 years
We take a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, bringing together a wide range of skilled doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. For our patients, this means access to the very best of treatments and experts available, all delivered within the one integrated cancer care plan.
Welcome to Radiation Oncology
We have been providing radiation oncology services to our patients for 60 years, resulting in a wealth of experience.
Our radiation specialists are here every day, ensuring total continuity of care. Radiation therapy is an effective and important part of management for a range of cancers. The prospect of radiation therapy can be a mysterious and even frightening thought for many individuals.
This website has been designed to relieve some of your anxiety by helping you understand more about radiation therapy and walk you through the practicalities of undergoing radiation therapy.
Our radiation oncology department is at the forefront of cancer care and research in Australia.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is a hospital that is solely dedicated to treating and researching cancer. We treat all types of cancer and specialise in those that are complex and rare.
Our vision and mission are to deliver to our patients and those who care for them innovative, effective and compassionate cancer care and support, according to the best research evidence. This is achieved through a coordinated, multidisciplinary team of highly talented and motivated people working in clinical care, research, education and psycho-oncology.
Today, we are one of the biggest cancer clinical trials centres Australia and the biggest in New South Wales, giving our patients access to the world’s newest cancer breakthroughs. At any one time there are more than 100 clinical trials taking place, ranging across all disciplines from radiation oncology and medical oncology to surgery and exercise physiology and covering all tumour types. Our care is underpinned by a thriving research program. Research is carried out by the same clinicians who treat our patients, shortening the path between discovery and practice.
We are equipped with the latest technology that includes the newest model linear accelerators for the most precise and accurate delivery of radiation possible, a fully integrated brachytherapy service and stereotactic radiosurgery equipment. This allows us to deliver full body treatment for every type of cancer, including the most rare and complex ones.
What to expect
Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. Modern radiation therapy techniques focus on accurately and precisely targeting the cancer whilst sparing the normal body organs around the cancer as much as possible.
During your initial consultation with your Radiation Oncologist, he or she will discuss all the treatment options available to you (including Radiation therapy) for managing your type of cancer.
Your Radiation Oncologist will explain how the treatment may benefit you, as well as the possible side effects of radiation therapy.
You will have the opportunity to ask questions. If you decide to have radiation therapy, your Radiation Oncologist will book you in for a radiation therapy planning session and make necessary arrangements for any additional tests that you may need.
Following your initial consultation, a planning appointment will be organised for you by your Radiation Oncologist. The staff at Radiation Oncology will contact you to provide the date and time of this appointment. Please make sure that you arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time.
Your Radiation Oncologist may require relevant x-rays and scans that you have had. Some of these scans may be on a disc rather than on film. Please bring all of these with you for your planning session and hand them over to the Radiation Therapists looking after you. Your scans will be used for the planning process and returned to you when you start your treatment.
It is important that you let our team know of your medical conditions and if you have any prostheses (artificial joints and body parts) or any pacemaker implants.
Your radiation therapy planning session will allow us to determine the most accurate and reproducible position for your treatment. The planning session will often involve a CT scan of the area to be treated. Your Radiation Oncologist and Radiation Therapists will then create a treatment plan that is customised just for you, to treat your type of cancer. The planning session takes approximately 30 – 45 minutes.
Your radiation therapy will be delivered by specialised machines called linear accelerators. They are very accurate and precise machines that produce the radiation therapy beam. The machine will not touch you at any time.
During treatment you will be positioned in the same way as in your radiation therapy planning session. It is important to keep still and breathe normally during your treatment.
The radiation therapy team will be inside the room with you while they position you for your treatment. Once they are ready to begin your treatment, they will let you know and leave the room. They will be observing you closely at all times during treatment via cameras in the treatment room and can speak to you if necessary.
Although you will hear the machine during your treatment, you will not see or feel the radiation therapy beam. The treatment is painless and lasts about 2-10 minutes. The whole treatment session from positioning you to finishing treatment may take about 15-25 minutes.
After completing your radiation therapy course, a follow-up appointment will made for you to see your Radiation Oncologist. This will usually be about 4 – 6 weeks after radiation therapy.
Please check that you have details of when the follow up appointment is by asking one of our team members before leaving the Radiation Oncology department on your last day.
Further follow-up appointments and the timing of these appointments will be discussed with you by your Radiation Oncologist and the other Specialists looking after you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Radiation Therapy is a painless procedure – similar to having an x-ray. You will not feel or see anything, only hear the machine operating.
Each patient’s Radiation Therapy treatment plan is different so treatment time can be anywhere from one to over thirty treatments, depending on what type of cancer you have. Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss the number of treatment sessions you require.
Each treatment session usually last for a few minutes. However, you may be lying on the treatment couch for up to 30 minutes, with most of this time spent ensuring you are in the correct position.
No. The department is open from Monday to Friday.
Yes. The Radiation Therapy does not make you radioactive. It is therefore safe to be around people, including pregnant women and children.
There may be some side effects, and they will differ from patient to patient depending on the type of Radiation Therapy you are receiving. Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss the possible side effects with you and answer any questions you may have.
You will have weekly appointments with your Radiation Oncologist to review how you are progressing through your treatment. This is a good opportunity to raise any concerns you have about side effects. You can also ask the Radiation Therapists and/or Nursing staff at any time if you have concerns.
The Radiation Therapy treatment may cause changes to the skin including dry, red, itchy skin (in the treated area). Skin reactions tend to appear after about two weeks of treatment and may develop even further to become itchy and tender as the treatment continues. The skin reaction is similar to that of sunburn; it may become pink, and may feel warm to touch with mild discomfort.
Hair loss only occurs in the treated area. It normally occurs after about two weeks of treatment and is usually temporary but may be permanent.
Unless you are having Radiation Therapy to head and neck or pelvis region then no. Please discuss with the treatment team if you have any concerns.
Please bring a list of medications so your doctor can advise whether or not you can continue taking your medicines.
Support for you and your family
With a holistic approach to cancer care, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is committed to treating the whole person. Find out about allied health and complementary therapies available to you and your loved ones during your treatment.
Types of radiation therapy
Our radiation oncology department offers a range of modern radiotherapy techniques. These include various forms of external beam radiotherapy as well as internally delivered radiotherapy known as brachytherapy. We also have specialised equipment to deliver superficial radiation therapy which is often used to treat skin tumours.
External beam radiation therapy
This is the most common form of radiation therapy.
The types of machines used in delivering External Beam Radiation Therapy are called Linear Accelerators. They are very accurate and precise machines that produce the radiation beam.
Currently, our department consists of five linear accelerators equipped with the latest technology allowing us to deliver your radiation therapy treatment to different parts of your body.
Internal Radiation Therapy (also known as Brachytherapy)
Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy that places radioactive sources inside the patient to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This allows your doctor to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area in less time.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse aims to provide affordable care to all patients.
Radiation Oncology is an outpatient service and there are costs associated with your care.
The majority of costs are covered by Medicare through the Medicare Benefits Scheme and the Extended Medicare Safety Net program, which reimburses between 80-90% of the cost of treatment. If you hold a current Concession Card, you will not be charged for your care.
Once you and your Radiation Oncologist have decided on a treatment plan, any out-of-pockets expenses for your Radiation Therapy treatment will be explained to you by one of our Patient Navigators.
For more information download our brochure Understanding radiation therapy billing and Medicare or contact our Patient Navigator (Accounts) on (02) 8514 0577 or you can email directly to: ROBilling@lh.org.au
For information relating to the Medicare Benefits scheme and Medicare Safety Net, please visit the Department of Human Services website.
If you are an international patient or not eligible for Medicare and you require radiation oncology or radiation therapy treatment, we can help by liaising with your health insurer.
Our team has extensive experience working with insurers. We will contact them to determine your level of cover and liaise with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse cancer hospital medical staff for the necessary insurance documentation.
If a guarantee of payment is received from your insurer prior to treatment, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will invoice them directly, otherwise you are required to pay before commencing treatment.
Radiation oncology patients are assured of high quality and timely treatment.
International patients can call us on 02 8514 0023.
Education and training
We are dedicated to the education and training of students and staff working within the department. For many health professions, clinical placements and continuing professional development are mandatory. Training periods for students assist them in demonstrating the knowledge acquired from university and help them to gain the practical skills they need to become accredited members of their profession.
During training, students are encouraged to actively participate in daily work practices, ask questions and interact with patients. All students that train in this department work under constant supervision.
Over the course of your treatment, it is likely you will encounter university students participating in clinical placement. If you do not feel comfortable having a student observe, please let the staff know.
The Radiation Oncology department is also involved in the ongoing education and training of its staff in the following ways:
- We employ radiation therapists completing their Supervised Practice Program (SPP). This program involves an additional training and guidance period for qualified university graduates.
- Radiation oncology registrars participate in cancer management and weekly patient review clinics, under the supervision of radiation oncology staff.
- Medical physics trainees undertake training under the guidance of medical physics staff. Medical physics trainees actively participate in quality assurance procedures.
We are actively involved in cancer research. Research helps in the development and application of new techniques and technology. It also is used to analyse the effectiveness of current protocols and techniques.
If you wish to join a current clinical trial, please discuss this at your initial consultation with your radiation oncologist. You can view a list of current clinical trials below.
Meet our team
Your radiation therapy treatment relies upon a large number of highly skilled professionals, working together to provide you with the best care and support.
During your time at the department of radiation oncology, you will most likely come across some if not all of the members of our team at different stages of your radiation therapy treatment.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
119-143 Missenden Road,
Camperdown NSW 2050
Cnr Missenden & Salisbury Rd
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is located on Missenden Road, Camperdown. The Department of Radiation Oncology is located on Salisbury Road, Camperdown, which is situated behind the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse main building on Missenden Road. Please refer to the above.