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17 Palliative radiotherapy
  1. Linda Bedford1,2
  1. 1Macmillan Cancer Support, UK
  2. 2Radiotherapy Dept., Beacon Centre, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton, Somerset, UK


Introduction Radiotherapy treatment with palliative intent accounts for 35–40% of the radiotherapy department’s workload. Historically, patients had a long wait to see Consultant Clinical Oncologists and receive radiotherapy for their symptoms (the most common of which is pain) (Jones et al 2014).

Service Improvement A service has been developed for rapid access to palliative radiotherapy, to improve the patient experience and access timely symptom control. This is achieved with radiographer led service where patients are seen by a Consultant Radiographer (CR), assessed for radiotherapy, consented, referred and radiation prescriptions all completed eliminating waiting times for Oncologists clinics. Including a CR led outreach service for the trust and local Hospices ensuring all patients requiring palliative radiotherapy receive timely assessment and treatment.


  • Assess patients individually in terms of suitability for palliative radiotherapy.

  • Promote awareness of Palliative Radiotherapy as a treatment option in managing

  • metastatic cancer as a complex long term condition

  • Reduction of Pill Burden (Farrell et al 2013)

  • Reducing length of stay and admissions.

  • Holistic pain management – liaising with palliative care teams in the community.

Results A streamlined process has been developed demonstrating continuity of care. Specialist nurses and physios now contact the CR for advice and direct referrals. Pain is managed in a timely manner.

Conclusion This work has highlighted the complex nature of palliative radiotherapy in the management of cancer as a long term condition enabling patients to access timely symptom control. There are still many challenges to overcome and this is very much work in progress.

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