What is External Beam Radiation Therapy?

Female doctor talking to male patient.
Print icon

It sounds like something dangerous or straight out of a science fiction movie, but external beam radiation therapy is one of the best and most advanced ways to treat prostate cancer.

Dr. Nicole Anderson, a radiation oncologist with Backus Hospital, says external beam radiation is recommended for many patients with prostate cancer, one of the most treatable forms of cancer. Typically, 44 15-minute radiation treatments are given five days a week.

“Treatments are highly localized to the area containing the cancer and patients feel absolutely nothing during each individual treatment session,” Dr. Anderson says.

First, patients undergo a simulation visit so treatments target the exact location of the cancer. These visits include:

  • Having the patient lie on the CT scanner in the exact treatment position.
  • Creating any needed immobilization devices so the patient stays comfortable and still.
  • Placing reference marks or “tattoos” on the patient.
  • Taking “mapping” scans.

“We radiation oncologists work very closely with the medical physicist and dosimetrist to create an optimal plan for each patient to ensure the treatment is delivered in the safest and most effective way possible,” Dr. Anderson says.

Some patients notice mild side effects from radiation treatments, including:

  • Increased need to urinate or sense of urgency.
  • Change in bowel habits.
  • Mild fatigue.

The newest form of RT – Stereotactic Body RT, or SBRT – is currently being tested in an ongoing Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center research trial at Hartford Hospital and The Hospital of Central Connecticut. Dr. Anderson says SBRT shortens the number of sessions needed from 44 to just five for select patients.

“The results of this new treatment are promising but it still remains under investigation,” she says.

For more information about treatment options available through Hartford HealthCare, click here.

 


What's New

Jeffrey A. Flaks

A Message From Hartford HealthCare CEO Jeffrey Flaks

With the concerns about coronavirus and COVID-19, I want to assure you that Hartford HealthCare is doing everything possible to protect the safety and well-being of the people and the communities we serve, and our team of healthcare providers. Our goal is to be ready and prepared for whatever is...

Quite Smoking

Trying to Quit Smoking? Here’s Some Help

By Ellen Anderson Dornelas, PhD Director, Cancer Care Delivery and Disparities Research Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute What do President Obama and Keith Richards have in common?  Both struggled to quit smoking cigarettes. The legendary rocker said that quitting smoking was “harder than quitting heroin.” At age 76, he stopped smoking...

Pancreatic Cancer Recovery

How to Manage Pancreatic Cancer Treatment’s Side Effects

A pancreatic cancer survivor is any person who is actively facing pancreatic cancer or has faced it at some point. It could be someone who has completed treatment or a patient actively receiving chemotherapy for a limited or long-term management of their disease. Patients treated with chemotherapy experience a variety...

Breast Cancer Awareness

The New Normal for Breast Cancer Survivors

The word “patient” stems from the Latin word patiens, meaning sufferer. Until recently, a diagnosis of cancer conveyed a sense of victimhood and loss of control, hence labels such as “cancer patient” or “cancer victim.” Despite good intentions, these terms left those with a cancer diagnosis feeling isolated and somehow...


Art exhibit helps ease the anxiety of cancer treatment

Rounded and slightly distorted, the photos give the feel of looking through a ship’s thick glass porthole or the domed eye of a fish at a view that is both wondrous and intriguing. Two dozen pieces from the collection of regarded Wethersfield photographer Jack McConnell’s “Hartford Parallax: ‘Round Hartford” collection...