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External-Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) For Prostate Cancer

What Happens During A Planning Session Before Your First Radiation Treatment

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There will be a planning session at the radiation facility (generally the department of radiation oncology).

During the planning session:

  • You will meet the technicians and other personnel who will be involved in giving the treatment.
  • You will lie on a table. The radiation therapist will outline the treatment field and determine the settings of the machine.
  • The radiation therapist will position you in the position you will be in during the therapy. Molds may be created from plastic or plaster to help you remain in position during treatment.
  • The therapist will mark the skin around the treatment site with a pen to help assure the radiation is targeted to the correct area.
    • Do not wash off the mark unless it is made permanent. 
    • If the mark begins to fade, rather than make it darker yourself, tell the technician.
    • Ask if the mark can rub off on clothing and other material. If so, wear older undergarments that will cover the mark.
  • The therapist may permanently tattoo tiny dots around the field to be radiated. These dots are hardly noticeable because of their small size. They are made permanent in case you need additional radiation at a later date. Other radiologists will know where the previous radiation was given so the two don't overlap.

There will also likely be a mock session (known as a simulation) when you and the technician will run through a radiation treatment. A beam of laser light substitutes for radiation. The purpose of the mock session is to make sure everything is correct (some people refer to this as a "dress rehearsal.")  A simulation can take an hour or more.

Ask your radiologist about whether you can eat and drink prior to treatment. Generally you can, except for patients who take radiation to the abdomen.

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