If you need to follow any specific eating or drinking instructions, your radiation oncologists will explain this before your first treatment.
Your treatment commences
At your first treatment, a radiation therapist will speak to you about the process and answer any questions you may have.
At every appointment:
- Identity checks will be performed - these include confirming your full name, date of birth, address and the area you are about to have treated
- Your measurements will be checked and recorded as you’re getting set up
Your therapists will walk you through every process, so you can feel comfortable knowing exactly what’s going on at all times.
How long will each treatment take?
Your first treatment will take around 20-30 minutes. The remaining treatments should only take about 10-15 minutes. Most of this time is spent checking you’re in the correct position. Remember, it’s very important that you lie still, relax, and breathe normally.
Does it hurt?
When you have external beam radiation therapy treatment, every session is painless - just like having an X-ray.
What happens during the treatment?
You’ll lie down in the machine and get into the same position you were in when you had your first scans or x-rays. Your radiation therapists may adjust your position by moving the table or your body.
If you needed a special device to help you stay still during your scan, you’ll use it again now. These devices ensure you’re always going to be in the exact same position at every treatment.
When you’re in the correct position, your radiation therapists will take scans of your body.
They’ll step outside briefly while the scans are being taken, and they’ll monitor you, from a nearby room, on a television with audio setup.
This means you’ll be alone in the treatment room – but you can talk to your therapists using an intercom, at any time, during your treatment session.
How does the machine work?
The radiation therapy treatment machine is called a ‘linear accelerator gantry’ or ‘linac gantry’.
The treatment table you lie on will automatically move so the radiation beams can reach the exact area of your body to be treated.
The machine will make some clicking, knocking and whirring noises during treatment. These sounds are very normal, and are nothing to be worried about.
Remember: your experienced radiation therapist will be outside and in control of your treatment and the machine at all times.
Next step – Side effects