FAQ

Can I choose where I am treated?

Absolutely. Our expert care co-ordinators will discuss things with you like treatment wait times, location and options and together we will work out the best location for you.

How much does radiotherapy cost if I am treated privately?

Our private centres can treat both public and private patients. The exact cost of your treatment will vary depending on how any fractions (or doses of radiotherapy you need).

Medicare typically pays between 80 and 90% of the costs of radiation treatment and so your ‘out of pocket’ amount is usually lower than expected.

Our patient services team can discuss the exact costs of your treatment along with Medicare reimbursement and payment options at your first appointment.

How do I prepare for my planning appointment?

At the planning appointment you will have a CT scan (simulation) of your pelvis. The CT scan (simulation) is performed in the Radiotherapy Unit within the Radiotherapy department of your treating hospital.

Because the position of the prostate can vary according to the fullness of the bladder and rectum, we require that you have a comfortably ‘full’ bladder and empty rectum before the planning scans for each of your radiotherapy treatments.
One hour before your CT scan, we would like you to go to the toilet to empty your bladder and bowel. After going to toilet, please drink 500ml of water over a 15 minute period. The 45 minutes between the drink and the scan will allow your bladder to fill up to be comfortably full. If you are feeling that your bladder is uncomfortably full during this process, please speak with one of the nursing or radiotherapy staff.

When your bladder is an appropriate size you will be taken to the CT scanning room by a radiation therapist to begin your CT scan. You will be positioned on the CT bed as you will be for treatment. If your bladder is too small you will be required to drink some more water. If your rectum is full, you may be given an enema to help empty your rectum. You will then be rescanned.

How should I best look after myself during radiotherapy?

In general, we encourage people to lead as normal life as possible during their radiotherapy and many people continue to work as normal during their treatment.

While undergoing radiotherapy, bath or shower as usual using warm water, but avoid scrubbing at the skin in the treated area.

It’s also important to maintain a well-balanced healthy diet during treatment.

Each week during your treatment, you will undertake a special scan, called a ‘cone beam’ CT scan. This will provide accurate information on the size of your bladder and rectum. Your doctor and radiation therapist will give you feedback on the scan results and may wish to discuss changes to your diet in order to minimise the dose of radiation received by the bowel and bladder.

What are the most common side effects of radiotherapy?

The below are a list of some of the main side effects. Please be assured that not everybody experiences these side effects and in the majority of cases any symptoms will settle within a few weeks of finishing treatment.

Urinary problems
Many patients find they need to pass urine more frequently, especially at night. There may also be a burning sensation when passing urine. Men who have reduced control (incontinence) following their operation, may also find that it worsens during treatment. However, this symptom is likely to improve again, after treatment ends. It is rare for radiation to cause incontinence.

Skin
The skin around the anus may become uncomfortable and some patients may lose some of their pubic hair in the weeks following treatment. This is temporary and the hair should grow back over several months.

Sexual function
Sexually active men (post surgery) do NOT need to refrain from sexual activity either during or after treatment. Having sexual relations during radiation treatment will NOT harm your partner. Occasionally though, a man may feel a slight ‘burning’ on orgasm during the treatment phase.

Tiredness, fatigue & general symptoms
Tiredness and fatigue are common side effects of treatment, although most people continue to work and lead a normal life. It is very rare to be sick during this treatment and you will NOT lose your hair.

Bowel irritation

Although relatively uncommon, changes to your bowel habits may occur during treatment. You may notice that you need to go to the toilet more frequently, pass a lot of wind, or have a feeling of urgency and develop discomfort when passing a motion. Some people may also experience bleeding from the rectum (especially if they have haemorrhoids) or notice a mucus discharge, though this last symptom is again rare.

Where can I go for more information?

Genesis CancerCare NSW www.cancer.com.au
NSW Cancer Council www.cancercouncil.com.au
Cancer Institute, NSW www.cancerinstitute.org.au
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia www.prostate.org.au
Andrology Australia www.andrologyaustralia.org
Continence Foundation of Australia www.continence.org.au
Impotence Australia www.impotenceaustralia.com.au