Question: How are the external beam radiation treatments for breast cancer given?
Answer: Radiation for breast cancer is a fairly straightforward undertaking. As a patient, you come every day for treatment, Monday through Friday, for about 6 weeks. You're in the department for about a half-hour. And the whole treatment process itself might take ten to fifteen minutes. You're positioned on a firm, hard table. And we use a hard table so that we can re-position you each day in exactly the same way. It might take five to ten minutes for the technicians to align the machine properly. And then they leave the room, and the treatment itself takes about 30 seconds. You feel nothing during the treatment. You sense nothing. If the machine didn't make a small hum, you would not know whether it was on or off, or that you received a treatment or didn't. At the end of the treatment session, you get dressed and go home. Lead the rest of your life that day, and come back the next day. So it's a fairly straightforward process, and one that is fairly well-tolerated, in most cases.