Beam Radiation Therapy (EBR)
radiation is sometimes given as an adjuvant treatment in addition
to the primary treatment, or as a curative treatment when the cancer
cannot be removed by surgery, or as a palliative approach to relieve
symptoms and improve quality of life.
Sheet About External Beam Radiation Therapy
(from the American
Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, www.astro.org,
radiation therapy involves a series of daily outpatient treatments
to accurately deliver radiation to the cancer.
- Painless radiation
therapy treatments are delivered in a series of daily sessions.
Radiation treatments take only a few minutes, but each session takes
about half an hour to get checked in, change clothes, get into position
and receive the radiation. For some conditions, radiation is given
twice a day, with a four to six hour gap between treatments.
are usually scheduled Monday through Friday, for five to eight weeks.
However, your radiation oncologist may schedule your treatments
more or less often depending on your cancer.
conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment
fields to deliver precise doses of radiation to the affected area.
Tailoring each of the radiation beams to accurately focus on the
patient's tumor allows coverage of the cancer while at the same
time keeping radiation away from nearby healthy tissue.
modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a form of 3D-CRT that further
modifies the radiation by varying the intensity of each radiation
beam. This technique allows a precise adjustment of radiation doses
to the tissue within the target area. IMRT may allow doctors to
direct a higher radiation dose to the affected area and keep more
radiation away from nearby healthy tissue.
- To help you
keep still during treatment, your doctor may use a plastic head
or shoulder mask. These devices are specially fitted for you and
are painless to use.
Side effects of
radiation therapy are limited to the area that is receiving treatment.
- Side effects
can include redness of the skin, sore throat, dry mouth, alteration
of taste, pain on swallowing and possible hair loss in the treated
area. Fatigue is also very common.
- Side effects
are different for each patient. Medications and nutritional supplements
may be prescribed to make you as comfortable as possible.
- If at any time
during your treatment you feel discomfort, tell your doctor or nurse.
They may be able to alter the treatment or prescribe a drug to help
you feel better.
It is important
to take care of your mouth, teeth and gums during radiation.
- Careful brushing
of your teeth can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, mouth sores
and jaw infections.
- Be sure to
tell your dentist that you received radiation to the head and neck
- Talk to your
doctor or dentist about any problems you are having.
updated: October 23, 2006