How you prepare

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Before you undergo external beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer, your health care team guides you through a planning process to ensure that radiation reaches the precise spot in your body where it's needed. Accurate planning is essential for the use of all radiation therapy, but especially so for IMRT. The goal is to precisely deliver radiation to the cancer while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Planning typically includes:

  • Radiation simulation. A few days before your radiation simulation appointment, several marker seeds will be inserted into your prostate by a radiologist. These markers help to more precisely locate your prostate during each radiation treatment session.

    During simulation, it's crucial that you lie still during the procedure. Your radiation therapy team will help you find a comfortable position during treatment.

    Customized immobilization devices are used to help you hold still in the right position. Your radiation therapy team will make marks on your body to be used for setup during your radiation therapy sessions.

  • Planning scans. Your radiation therapy team performs computerized tomography (CT) scans to determine the exact area of your body to be treated.

    After the planning process, your radiation therapy team decides what type of radiation and what dose you'll receive based on your stage of cancer, your general health and the goals for your treatment.

May. 18, 2013