Radiation Therapy

Also known as: radiotherapy, external beam radiation therapy.

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is a common form of cancer treatment. It refers to exposing the body to beams of radiation that are used to kill cancer cells and prevent them from coming back.

What happens during the procedure?

External beam radiation therapy is the most common form of radiation therapy. It involves the patient lying on a table while a machine known as a linear accelerator delivers radiation beams to the area of the body with cancer. Sessions last 30-45 minutes.  Patients often receive treatment five days per week, with a break on the weekend for the body’s health cells to recover.

Is any special preparation needed?

Patients may require several tests prior to receiving radiation therapy. Computer tomography (CT) is used to simulate the patient to plan the treatment and find a comfortable position for treatment.

What are the side effects?

Hair loss, skin irritation, fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, mouth sores, headaches nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, cough, and frequent urination are a few of the many potential side effects of radiation therapy.

Reviewed by: Matthew David Hall, MD

This page was last updated on: June 21, 2019 12:41 AM

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