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External-Beam Radiation


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External beam radiation (also called External Radiation) is radiation delivered by a machine directly to a tumor site under the supervision of a cancer doctor who is known as a Radiation Oncologist. 

When planning your treatment, the radiation oncologist considers a variety of factors including: the characteristics of your cancer; the sensitivity of the tumor to radiation; and the vulnerability of nearby normal tissues. These factors determine the type of external radiation therapy, the dose to be used, and the treatment schedule.

The radiation dose is normally the same for each session. However, there may be variations.

While waiting for treatment to begin, there are steps to take. For instance, see your dentist. Talk with your doctor about the drugs, vitamins etc you take in case he or she wants you to stop taking them temporarily.

Before your first session, there will be a planning session. It is advisable to take a family member of friend with you to the meeting. It is also helpful to record the session.

Don't be surprised if the start of radiation treatment makes cancer feel real.

External bream radiation is given over a period of time rather than in massive doses which gives radiated skin time to heal between sessions.

There are do's and don'ts to be aware of during treatment. For example, don't apply powder to the radiated area before treatment.

Side effects such as skin irritation and fatigue during treatment are either controllable or there are techniques to lessen the effect. There may also be long term side effects. 

Keep in mind that treatment decisions may change as treatment goes along. A change does not mean that the original treatment was wrong. Medicine is a combination of science and art.

  • If needed, transportation is available to and from treatment.
  • If you are uncomfortable in a hospital gown, make your own or buy a substitute.

Women: Avoid getting pregnant during radiation treatment.

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