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External-Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) For Prostate Cancer

What Happens During A Radiation Treatment

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External radiation treatment is usually given at a set time on set days of the week. 

Before treatment begins

Generally, you change into a hospital gown. (You can bring one of your own design. If you are interested in making your own, for a pattern, see the document in "To Learn More."  Alternatively, gowns designed for purchase are also available. For instance, see offsite link

Then you will be taken into a treatment room which generallyu has thick concrete walls and lead-lined doors to protect people outside the treatment area from radiation.

You will be assisted onto the table or into the chair in which you will receive treatment. 

Blood may be drawn from time to time before the procedure starts to check your levels of white cells and platelets. They may become abnormally low during treatment. 

Radiation treatment is not invasive so there is no need for anesthesia.

It will take the technician a while to position you beneath the radiation unit. The tech may take a picture before treatment starts to be sure the field is aligned correctly. 

The technician will leave the room during treatment. You will be able to communicate via an intercom. The technician will also be able to visually observe you. 

Expect to be weighed at least once a week to see whether you are maintaining your normal weight. You may either lose or gain weight during treatment. 

The treatment

The actual treatment will generally only be a few minutes long. You don't have to hold your breadth. You will be able to breathe the whole time. (The whole appointment usually lasts fifteen minutes to a half hour).

Immediately after treatment

If you find you get queasy after treatment, it may because you have food in your stomach.

  • Next time, try fasting for several hours before and after each treatment. 
  • If nausea continues, let your radiation oncologist know. He or she can prescribe anti-nausea medication.

NOTE: If you experience nausea, consider not eating for several hours before and after each treatment. (There are other practical tips for dealing with nausea: see: To Learn More)

Activities during treatment:

  • Men generally can continue their regular schedule during radiation treatment, including exercise.
  • When it comes to exercise, check with your radiation oncologist. Even swimming is likely to be okay once skin markers are made permanent if you don’t let your skin become too dry.
  • Listen to your body and take good care of yourself.



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