Planning appointments

Before you start radiation treatment you’ll have a planning appointment. 

At this appointment you may have a Computed Tomography (CT) scan or the doctor may draw the area they wish to treat on your skin. Radiation therapists and doctors will use the information gathered during this appointment to plan your treatment. 
You may also receive another form of treatment along with radiation therapy, such chemotherapy or surgery.  

Preparation for your scan

You may have been sent or given instructions by phone to prepare for your planning scan. It is important to follow these instructions.

Please follow these instructions if you are having treatment for prostate cancer.

If you have been unable to follow this advice, please tell your radiation therapist.

If you are unsure about what you need to do to prepare please call 04 806 2000 and ask to speak to the planning department.

Making a Mask (Shell)

If we are treating your head, neck, or your throat, we may need to make a mask for your planning scan and your treatment. Your head is very mobile and difficult to keep still so we use a mask to help you keep it in the right place for treatment.

This video gives you more information if you are having treatment to your face, neck or throat. Part of the video goes through how we make the mask for you.



The CT Scan

On the day of your scan

When you arrive at Wellington Regional Hospital please check in at the reception of the Radiation Therapy Department on level 2 (behind Wishbone Café). A Radiation Therapist will come to meet you in the main waiting room and take you and your support people into a clinic room.

They will explain what is going to happen and ensure you have all the required information. This is usually a good time to ask any questions you may have. You may have been asked to follow some instructions in preparation for your scan, it is important you tell the Radiation Therapist if you have been unable to follow this advice.

Once everything has been explained they may ask you to get changed into a gown or trousers depending on what area of the body we are scanning. They will give you a basket to put your belongings in while you have the scan. 

Having your scan

The Radiation Therapist will show you into the CT room, your support people are welcome to come and watch but will be asked to leave whilst you have the scan.  You will be asked to lie down on the CT couch in a position which is as comfortable as possible and will work for planning your treatment. This is the same position you will be in for your treatment so if it is too uncomfortable please let the staff know. 
The Radiation Therapists will move you so that you are in the right position for treatment by using laser lights. Once you are in the correct position the Radiation Therapists will draw some pen marks on your skin. These will wash off. They will also place some markers on your skin, which will come off at the end. They will then move you through the scanner. Once you are in the correct position the Radiation Therapists will tell you they are leaving the room. 
Radiation treatment scan machine

While the Radiation Therapists are out of the room they can see and hear you at all times. If you need them then simply call out or wave and they will come straight back in. You will move through the centre of the scanner a few times during the scan. While you are having your scan you will not be able to feel or see anything but you will hear a whirring noise when the scanner is on. Once you have had the scan the Radiation Therapists will come back into the room and take a few more measurements. They may then ask you if they can make some permanent tattoo dots on the skin or cover your marks with plastic tape. 



Sometimes we need to make small dots on your skin to guide your treatment.  These are permanent. A radiation therapist will wipe your skin with an alcohol swab, place a dot of ink onto the skin surface, then using a sterile needle they will push a tiny amount of ink under your skin. They will wipe off any excess ink leaving a tiny permanent dot on your skin. This will not wash off.

Not all patients need tattoo dots, in some cases plastic tape is used to keep the marks on your skin. This tape is not permanent but we hope that it will last until you have finished treatment. If you are allergic to plasters please let us know. 

Don't worry is non permanent marks made on your skin do come off. But please let a staff member know when you come for your next appointment, so they can be re-drawn.  


After you have had your scan you may see your Consultant or Registrar so they can give you all the information you need to consent to treatment. This is a good time to ask any questions you may have about treatment. This booklet includes some questions you may like to consider. Sometimes questions come up after you have seen the doctor so write these down and bring them to your next appointment with us. The doctor may give you a prescription for medication you need to take before treatment. Please ensure you go to a pharmacy and fill your prescription before you start treatment. Please let the doctor or a member of the team know if you cannot get to a pharmacy or if you cannot afford the prescription.


Creating a treatment plan

For the next part of the planning process you don’t need to come to the hospital. Your Consultant and the Radiation Therapists will use the information from your scan to plan your treatment. Once the plan is created it is checked by the Radiation Therapists, the doctor and the physics department to ensure it is all correct. It will also be checked again by the Radiation Therapists on the treatment machine before your treatment starts. This part of the process can take two hours or up to two weeks depending on how complex the treatment is. 

Once your plan is complete you will be called and/or sent an appointment in the post with the date you will start treatment. The rest of your appointments will be given to you on the day you start treatment. 
If you have not received details of your appointment please call the department on 04 806 2000 and speak to the receptionist.
Last updated 28 June 2021.