Frequently asked questions

What types of cancer are treated at Spire?
We offer treatment for many types of cancer including those listed below:

  • bladder 
  • bone
  • bowel
  • breast
  • cervix
  • gall bladder
  • oesophagus
  • head and neck
  • kidney
  • leukaemia
  • liver
  • lung
  • lymph nodes
  • lymphoma
  • melanoma
  • mesothelioma
  • myeloma
  • neuroendocrine
  • ovary
  • pancreas
  • prostate
  • skin
  • soft tissue sarcomas
  • spinal cord
  • stomach
  • testes
  • thyroid
  • trachea (windpipe)
  • womb (uterus)

What do I need to access cancer treatment at a Spire hospital?
The services of Spire Cancer Care are open to everyone. To arrange an appointment you will simply need to to speak to your GP and ask to be referred. In some cases a referral may not be required - contact your nearest Spire hospital for more information.

If you have medical insurance you are advised to contact your insurer to confirm whether the consultation, diagnostic tests and/or treatments are covered by your policy. If you are paying for your own treatment your local Spire hospital will be happy to provide more information about prices.

Do I need a referral from my GP?
If you are worried that you may have cancer, you may be able to come for a consultation and have investigations as a self-pay patient without a GP referral, however this depends upon hospital policy. Please contact your local Spire hospital for more information. If you have private medical insurance, it is worth checking whether your insurer requires you to be referred by a GP.

Who will be in the team looking after me?
Our highly skilled teams of surgeons, oncologists and specialist support staff work together to deliver your treatment and care. They will make sure you are looked after from the moment of your diagnosis and throughout your treatment and aftercare.

You will receive personalised care from the same consultant throughout your treatment, and will have access to the oncology nursing team 24 hours a day.

Is there any support for my family?
Your family and friends may also need support when you are diagnosed with cancer and while you are having treatment. Our oncology team can put you in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support to offer support both in hospital and at home throughout your treatment. The oncology nursing team’s ethos is for you and your family to feel able to contact them at any time when you need advice and answers to your questions.

What tests are used to diagnose cancer?
Early diagnosis is very important for the successful treatment of cancer. Our highly specialised radiographers and consultant radiologists use a range of approaches to help them make fast and accurate diagnoses. Techniques include CT and MRI scanning, ultrasound, X-ray and mammography. Your consultant will discuss the most appropriate tests for you before going ahead.

Can a friend or one of my family come with me if I have surgery?
When you have surgery you can bring a partner, family member or friend with you to give their reassurance and support. They can be with you when you see your consultant and anaesthetist before surgery, and are welcome to stay in your room while you are in theatre and have any meals in the hospital, so they are there for you when you come back from surgery. We keep visiting hours flexible throughout your stay and offer free parking so that your friends and loved ones can spend lots of time with you to help you recover.

How often will I have to come for chemotherapy, and for how long?
Chemotherapy may become a part of your life for a while. For many patients, chemotherapy treatment will be given in cycles over a period of four to six months, with between one and four treatments each month. Treatment sessions usually last a morning or afternoon, and you can bring a family member or friend with you to keep you company.

How often will I have to come for radiotherapy, and for how long?
The amount of radiotherapy needed varies from patient to patient. You may only have to visit the hospital once, or you may need to have treatment daily for a number of days or weeks. Your consultant will discuss this with you in full so you know what to expect.

Can a friend come with me to chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy treatment sessions usually last a morning or afternoon, and you can bring a family member or friend with you to keep you company. We have created a warm and friendly environment so that you can feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible while you are here.

How does radiotherapy work?
Radiotherapy works by destroying cancer cells in the treated area, and may also be used to reduce cancer symptoms.

The Spire Specialist Care Centres (supported by Spire Bristol Hospital and Spire Hartswood Hospital) provide state-of-the-art treatment techniques for cancer, including external beam radiotherapy, in a caring, clean and comfortable environment. If you would like any information about the services and treatments available please contact the Spire Specialist Care Centre where one of the radiotherapy team will be happy to help answer any questions and provide you with further information.

Several Spire hospitals also have access to the very latest radiotherapy techniques through our partnership with Genesis Care (previously known as CancerPartnersUK).

The Genesis Care radiotherapy facilities has been built with you in mind, with flexible appointment times in comfortable, relaxing surroundings. This is because radiotherapy can entail a daily course of treatments for anything up to six weeks.

The facility offers the very latest generation radiotherapy treatment, Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) and Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT). These have been shown to optimise the effectiveness of radiotherapy, as well as minimising side effects. This system of radiation therapy is recognised as the very latest treatment of its type anywhere in the world.

The expert radiotherapists and clinicians are all highly experienced in cancer care and the facility is managed by a senior radiotherapist. The team will guide you through your treatment programme, answering questions and providing expert medical advice and consultation about all aspects of your cancer therapy.

If your local Spire hospital does not have a Genesis Care radiotherapy facility, your consultant oncologist can make arrangements for your treatment at a local radiotherapy unit.

What are the side effects with chemotherapy?
Side effects vary depending on the type of chemotherapy drugs used. You may not experience all the side effects associated with the drug you are taking, and if you do, they may only be mild. Most side effects are temporary, and will go after treatment has finished. Often you can take medicines that help to reduce any side effects. Your consultant will discuss the possible side effects associated with your treatment before you start chemotherapy. Your oncology team will help you to prepare for them and support you through any problems.

Common side effects to chemotherapy include sickness, hair loss (depending upon the type of chemotherapy you have) and tiredness. Treatment can also affect the blood, digestive system, mouth, skin, nails, fertility, bone marrow and some body organs. For more information on specific side effects visit the Cancer Research UK website’s cancer drugs section.

What are the side effects with radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy aims to destroy cancerous cells, but it can also affect normal cells that are close to the area being treated. This can result in mild side effects for some people and more severe ones for others. It is difficult to know how you will react, but most people feel tired during their treatment period, especially if it is over a number of weeks. Some people get sore skin, or lose their hair in the area being treated. This should grow back a few weeks after treatment is complete and other parts of the body are not affected. You may also have flu-like symptoms in the days after having radiotherapy.

Your consultant will discuss the possible side effects associated with your treatment before you start radiotherapy. Your oncology team will help you to prepare for them and support you through any problems.

How do I make an appointment?
You can make an appointment via our customer services team by calling your local Spire hospital. They will put you through to your consultant’s secretary who can make an appointment for you. Alternatively you can email your local Spire Hospital by using the online enquiry form on the right-hand side of this page.

You can also make an appointment at the Spire Specialist Care Centres using their online enquiry form.

Is there any support after I leave hospital?
Our concern for your health and wellbeing does not end when your treatment finishes. We work closely with organisations such as Macmillan Cancer Support to ensure you have access to an extended range of information, nursing and support following treatment.

How will I know if the treatment has been successful?
Tests can be carried out after your treatment to measure the effect it has had on your cancer. You may have some of the same tests used to diagnose your cancer. These will enable your consultant to establish whether any cancer is still detectable.

What happens if treatment fails?
Many cancers are treatable using a range of different drugs or methods. If cancer is still present after a particular treatment is completed, your consultant may suggest another method. There are established guidelines for the treatment of each type of cancer at each stage and your consultant will discuss these with you.

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© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)