External Beam Radiation Therapy
Used to treat many types of cancer, external beam radiation therapy uses a linear accelerator, or high-energy X-ray machine, to direct radiation to the tumor. The procedure typically takes about 15 minutes, usually for five days a week, over the course of six to eight weeks.
Before radiation treatment begins, a planning session or simulation is required to pinpoint the tumor and determine the treatment series. Simulation may take up to an hour.
External beam radiation therapy poses no risk of radioactivity to the patient or to those with whom he or she comes in contact. Patients can continue normal activities with family and friends.
In the case of prostate cancer, radiation works more effectively on small and moderately sized prostate glands. Men with very large prostate glands often undergo a 3- to 6-month course of hormone therapy to shrink the prostate gland before radiation therapy.