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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) directs a beam of radiation from outside the body at cancerous tissues inside the body. It is a cancer treatment option that uses doses of radiation to destroy cancerous cells and shrink tumors. Examples of EBRT include 3D conformal radiation therapy, IMRT, IGRT, TomoTherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our radiation oncologists are experienced in using advanced technologies to deliver external beam radiation therapy while also proactively managing patients’ side effects.

How it works

EBRT delivers high-energy rays to tumors, using a special X-ray machine called a linear accelerator. This machine allows radiation to be delivered from any angle and shapes radiation beams to the contour of the tumor. The machine moves around the body without touching the patient and aims radiation at the cancer.

Our radiation oncologists use EBRT to target a tumor with higher, more precise doses of radiation, while reducing damage to healthy tissue and nearby organs. As a result, EBRT may help reduce the risk of side effects associated with traditional radiation treatment.

During EBRT, you will lay down on a treatment table and remain motionless, but you don’t have to hold your breath. A radiation therapist will not be in the room with you, but he or she will be able to monitor you and talk with you through the speaker at all times.

The length of your treatment depends on many factors, including your type and stage of cancer. EBRT may be administered over a period of two to 10 weeks. Patients typically receive treatment once a day for five days in a row, generally Monday through Friday. Each treatment lasts a few minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure.

Managing EBRT side effects

While EBRT may help reduce the risk of side effects, some patients may experience skin changes, fatigue, nausea or other symptoms. With years of experience and training, the radiation oncologists at CTCA® at are well-versed in treatment-related side effects. They collaborate with our supportive care clinicians to work with you to help manage side effects as well as improve your quality of life.