Your Treatment

Most hospital protocols require an empty rectum and comfortably full bladder for treatment. Your individual cancer center will inform you of the exact protocol as these vary depending on your individual treatment plan and the equipment used.

Before you undergo external beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer, your health care team guides you through a planning process to ensure that radiation reaches the precise spot in your body where it’s needed.

Planning typically includes:

  • Radiation simulation. During simulation, your radiation therapy team works with you to find a comfortable position for you during treatment. It’s crucial that you lie still during radiation treatment, so finding a comfortable position is vital.

Customized immobilization devices are used to help you hold still in the right position. Your radiation therapy team will make marks on your body to be used for setup during your radiation therapy sessions.

  • Planning scans. Your radiation therapy team may perform computerized tomography (CT) scans to determine the exact area of your body to be treated.

After the planning process, your radiation therapy team decides what type of radiation and what dose you’ll receive based on your stage of cancer, your general health and the goals for your treatment.

What to Expect

Each treatment session usually lasts less than an hour. Most of that is preparation time. The actual radiation treatment only takes a few minutes.

During a treatment session:

  • You lie down in the position determined during your radiation simulation session.
  • You might be positioned with customized devices to hold you in the same position for each therapy session.
  • You will be asked to undress from the waist down. The staff may give you a gown to cover up until you are positioned on the couch. You will be provided with a cloth to cover essentials during treatment. Your skin’s surface needs to be exposed to allow the guidance technology to monitor your body position accurately.  Please keep in mind, therapists treat many prostate patients and have seen it all.
  • Staff with use AlignRT to help set you up and monitor your positioning to ensure your radiation is delivered accurately and as planned. If you move out of position AlignRT will automatically alert your therapist or pause the beam until you are repositioned.
  • The linear accelerator machine may rotate around your body to deliver radiation beams from different directions or the couch you are laying on may move to optimally position you.
  • You lie still and breathe normally during the treatment.
  • Your radiation therapy team stays nearby in a room with video and audio connections so that you can talk to each other.
  • You shouldn’t feel any pain. Speak up if you don’t feel comfortable.

Result

After your external beam radiation therapy is complete, you will have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor to evaluate how your cancer has responded to the treatment.

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