The aim of surgical treatment is to remove the cancer along with some surrounding normal tissue to ensure it has been completely removed. In addition, surgery often will search for any signs of spread by taking biopsies of other tissues such as lymph nodes.
While often surgery will be the first treatment option, this does depend on the type of cancer and the site. The range of surgical options is enormous but, if you require surgery, you will be operated on by surgeons who are experts in surgery for their particular cancer. Our multidisciplinary team ensures that you are offered the best combination of surgery and when necessary, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Surgery is normally provided at the Queen Margaret Hospital.
We are able to offer internal radiotherapy, known as brachytherapy. This is where solid radioactive material is placed inside the body to destroy cancer cells. It is placed within or near to the cancer, and as the radiation does not travel very far the advantage of this treatment is that it gives a high dose of radiotherapy directly to the tumour, but a low dose to normal tissues.
In men, brachytherapy is a common procedure used to treat prostate cancer and is recognised as an alternative to traditional, external beam radiotherapy. It involves implanting ‘seeds’ or ‘pellets’ of radioactive material directly into the prostate gland under a general or spinal anaesthetic. These ‘seeds’ are about the size of a grain of rice.
Brachytherapy is delivered at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh
Radiotherapy uses high-energy X-rays (radiation) to destroy cancer cells. It may be given on its own, or alongside other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or brachytherapy. Each course of radiotherapy is carefully planned based on the patient and the type of cancer they have. The doctor will prescribe the amount of radiation needed for the treatment. It can be delivered in one treatment, or it may be delivered in daily smaller doses.
Post Radiotherapy Patient Information
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat the whole body and to kill cancer cells wherever they might spread. Most typically, these are given as an intravenous infusion via a drip, an injection under the skin (subcutaneous), or some chemotherapy drugs can be given in tablet form.
Chemotherapy drugs can be given on their own, but are frequently given in combination. Treatment is usually given every few weeks for a variable duration, but typically lasting several months. The drugs given and their frequency will depend on the type of cancer.
All side effects will be carefully explained and ways to avoid/treat them will be discussed by the teams involved in your care. The majority of side effects are temporary and will resolve on completion of treatment. Your clinical nurse specialist and doctors will explain specific side effects of the drugs you are receiving.
The majority of patients requiring chemotherapy at our hospitals will receive their treatment as an outpatient.
These facilities are provided in the following locations:
Best supportive care
Best Supportive Care focuses on quality of life and aims to help you live as well and as comfortable as possible, rather than curing the cancer. Best Supportive Care can:
- Help with symptoms such as breathlessness, pain, sickness or problems eating
- Help you and the people you care about come to terms with the diagnosis and what it means
- Help you talk about the future and plan ahead. This can be hard to do but can help you feel more prepared and in control
- Support you to manage at home
Best Supportive Care is usually provided by a combination of people, including: GPs and District Nurses, Cancer Specialist Nurses and Specialist Palliative Care.