Radiation treatment will usually be started a few days after the simulation is complete depending on the time needed for treatment planning and other considerations.

Radiation therapy is usually given daily five days a week (weekdays) for 4 to 6 weeks. The first treatment may take a half hour or longer in order to adjust the equipment precisely. Subsequent treatments may be 10 to 15 minutes depending on the treatment areas.

Often the patient is asked to change into a hospital gown or robe prior to treatment. It is best to wear clothing that is easy to change.

In the treatment room the patient will be asked to lie on a treatment table below the machine that delivers the radiation. The radiation therapist may put special shields or blocks between the machine and certain parts of the body to protect unaffected tissues and organs. There might be plastic or plaster forms to help the patient stay in place. The radiation therapist will use marks on the skin to locate the treatment areas. The same areas will be treated each time. The patient must lie very still during treatment so the radiation is delivered to the desired areas only.

The radiation therapist will leave the treatment area prior to the machine being turned on. The machine is controlled from a small area or station that is nearby. The patient may feel alone and uneasy but usually may talk to the therapist through an intercom system. The therapist will be able to see the patient on a television screen or window at all times. The patient will not feel or see the radiation therapy as it is being delivered. If the patient feels ill or very uncomfortable during the treatment they should tell the therapist immediately - the machine can be stopped at any time and the patient can be assisted.

The machines used for radiation treatments are very large and may seem strange or frightening. They make noise as they move around to deliver radiation to different areas. The radiation therapist control the machines and the radiation physicist checks the equipment constantly to make sure everything is in perfect order. Be sure to ask your therapist, nurse, or physician to explain anything you might have questions about.

X-ray or accelerator treatments will not make the patient radioactive. This type of radiation cannot be passed on from one person to another. Touching or having intimate contact with another person poses no risk to them of radiation exposure.

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