What is it and what happens afterwards?


What happens during external beam radiation?

Radiation therapists give you the treatment. There are usually two radiation therapists with you each day. You may need to change into a hospital gown so that the radiation therapist can get to the part of your body that is being treated. Although the treatment may last only a few minutes, it can take 15 or more minutes  to set up for it. You should plan to be there for 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes less than this.

Approximately one half hour before radiation you may be given a drug for nausea.

You must be in exactly the right position and the machine must be set up accurately. Once this is done, you will need to stay very still. You do not need to hold your breath. If you have to move or cough, just tell or signal to the therapist. The radiation therapist will turn off the machine to help you.

During the treatment, you will not see or feel the radiation. The machine will move around you. It may come close to you, but it will not touch you.

Although you will be alone in the room when the treatment machine is turned on, the radiation therapists will watch you all the time on a TV monitor. The radiation therapist can also hear you over an intercom. The radiation therapist will be watching you and
listening to you all the time.

The team member working with you will explain what is going on, step by step. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

At each daily treatment, your radiation therapist is there to answer your question and talk to you about any problems you may be having.

Once a week while on treatment, you will have an appointment with your doctor and/or nurse. This is a time when your doctor and nurse can ask you about how you are coping with your treatments. It is a good idea to make a list of questions you may have, or bring a friend or family member along to hear what the doctor has to say. As well, a doctor or nurse is always available to see you more often to help deal with any problems.

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In the radiation room you will be placed onto the table. Wedges, forms etc will
be used to position you precisely for radiation.

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The table then moves to position you under the radiation machine, where you are lined up with the machine.

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Exact alignment is done for the top. Green beams are used to compare the alignment to the tattoos on your body.

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The radiation machine turns, so that alignment can be done for the bottom. Careful alignment and precision is checked.

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Notice the stars on the ceiling,…something used to distract while laying very still.

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You are then left alone in the radiation room while the radiation team is outside in a room monitoring everything. They can see and hear you and watch you closely while the radiation is given.


    Outside the door a light shows when the radiation beam is being given.


Continued  on page 4

picture of courage