What Should I Expect

What should I expect when undergoing radiation therapy?

The procedure for your radiation therapy session will depend upon the machine used in your medical treatment center.

If they are using a linear accelerator, the machine will direct high-energy beams of radiation into your body. As you lie on a table, the linear accelerator moves around you to deliver radiation from several angles. The linear accelerator can be adjusted for your particular situation so that it delivers the precise dose of radiation your doctor has ordered.

You typically receive external beam radiation five days a week over a certain period of time. You can go home after each session.  In most instances, treatments are usually spread out over several weeks to allow your healthy cells to recover in-between radiation therapy sessions.

Expect each treatment session to last over an hour, since the radiation team will need to adjust the machine and assure that you are in the correct position.

During a treatment session, you will lie down in the position determined during your radiation simulation session. You might be positioned with molds to hold you in place. The linear accelerator machine may rotate around your body to reach the target from different directions. The machine makes a buzzing sound.

You will lie still and breathe normally during the treatment, which takes only a few minutes.

Your radiation therapy team stays in a room nearby with video and audio connections so that you can talk to each other. You should speak up if you feel uncomfortable, but you should not feel any pain during your radiation therapy session.


Mayoclinic.org,. (2015). Radiation therapy What you can expect – Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 3 December 2015,
from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/radiation-therapy/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20014327