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External Radiation Therapy: A Typical Treatment


The typical radiation routine is as follows:

The appointment

  • Each patient is assigned a set day and time of the week, generally Monday through Friday.
  • Appointments generally start on time unles there is a machine malfunction or an emergency.

Preparation for the appointment

  • There is generally no preparation for the patient to make prior to the appointment. 
  • Eating is generally allowed right up to the beginning of the appointment, except for patients who will receive radiation to the abdomen.

Before the treatment

  • You will change into a hospital gown if necessary. You will be brought into the treatment room. 
  • From time to time, your blood will be drawn. Doctors wil check your levels of white cells and platelets in case they become abnormally low during treatment.
  • You will likely be weighed once a week to see what is happening with your weight. 
  • You will be helped onto a special table or chair. The technician will position you beneath the radiation unit. In some cases, such as radiation to the head, the part of your body to be radiated will be connected to the table so it does not move during treatment.
  • The technician will leave the room.
  • Sometimes a film will be taken before treatment begins to assure that the field is proerly aligned.

During treatment

  • You will be alone in the room. However, there wil be a two-way intercom which alows you to comunicate with the therapist who is observing you through a window or a closed-circut television.
  • The treatment itself will only take a few minutes. (You will not have to hold your breath). You will hear the machine work, but you will not see or hear the radiation beam.

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