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External Beam Radiation Therapy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What do I need to know about external beam radiation therapy (EBRT)?

EBRT is used to kill cancer cells or stop them from spreading. EBRT is also used to decrease pain caused by metastasis. Radiation is a very strong type of x-ray. EBRT may be combined with other treatments such as medicine, chemo, or surgery. It is usually done in a hospital or clinic. You may need EBRT every day over a period of several weeks.

How do I prepare for EBRT?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for EBRT. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of EBRT. Your healthcare provider may, instead, tell you to eat healthy foods. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of EBRT. Arrange for someone to drive you to and from your treatment sessions.

What will happen during EBRT?

You may be given medicine to help you stay calm and relaxed. Your healthcare provider will position your body for the procedure. Pillows or supports may be used to hold you in place. Shields may be put over you to block radiation exposure to other parts of your body. A machine will send a beam of radiation to the area of the cancer. You should not feel any pain, heat, or tingling during the procedure. Your healthcare provider will stay nearby in a room and you will be able to talk to him or her. Treatment usually lasts up to 15 minutes.

What will happen after EBRT?

You will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

What are the risks of EBRT?

How can I care for my skin during EBRT?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.