Radiation is most often given once
a day, 5 days a week, for a certain number of weeks. You get it in a clinic and go home
after each treatment.
Radiation treatment is a lot like
getting an X-ray. You may hear it called external radiation therapy. The radiation comes
from a large machine. The machine doesn't touch you during the treatment. The treatments
don't hurt and they are quick.
Before you start treatment, imaging
scans will be done to measure the exact location and size of the tumor so the beams of
radiation can be focused there. Tiny tattoos may be put on your skin to mark the
treatment area. This is done to be sure that the radiation goes to the exact same spot
every time so it reaches only the tumor, and not healthy parts of your body.
On the day of treatment, you're
carefully put into the right position. Molds or casts may be made to hold you in the
same position for each treatment and keep you from moving. You may see lights from the
machine lined up with the marks on your skin. These help the therapist know the
radiation is going to the right spot. The therapist will leave the room while the
machine sends radiation to your tumor. During this time, he or she can see you,
hear you, and talk to you. When the machine sends radiation to your tumor, you'll need
to be very still, but you don't have to hold your breath. The process will likely take
less than an hour.