In EBRT, beams of radiation are focused on the prostate gland from a machine outside the body. This type of radiation can be used to try to cure earlier stage cancers, or to help relieve symptoms such as bone pain if the cancer has spread to a specific area of bone.
Before treatments start, your radiation team will take careful measurements to find the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose of radiation. This planning session, called simulation, usually includes getting imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans. You might be fitted with a plastic mold resembling a body cast to keep you in the same position each day during treatment so that the radiation can be aimed more accurately.
You will usually be treated 5 days a week in an outpatient center for at least several weeks, depending on why the radiation is being given. Each treatment is much like getting an x-ray. The radiation is stronger than that used for an x-ray, but the procedure is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time — getting you into place for treatment — takes longer.
Newer EBRT techniques focus the radiation more precisely on the tumor. This let doctors give higher doses of radiation to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissues.