- What is radiation therapy? When is it used?
- How does radiation therapy work?
- Do the benefits of radiation therapy outweigh the risks and side effects?
- How much does radiation treatment cost?
- Who gives radiation treatments?
- Informed consent for radiation therapy
- How is radiation therapy given?
- External radiation therapy
- Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy)
- Systemic radiation therapy
- Preventing and managing side effects of radiation therapy
- Common side effects of radiation therapy
- Long-term side effects of radiation therapy
- Managing side effects of radiation treatment to certain parts of the body
- Radiation therapy to the head and neck
- Radiation therapy to the brain
- Radiation therapy to the breast
- Radiation therapy to the chest
- Radiation therapy to the stomach and abdomen
- Radiation therapy to the pelvis
- Follow-up care after radiation therapy
- Radiation therapy glossary
- To learn more
What is radiation therapy? When is it used?
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy or damage cancer cells. Other names for radiation therapy are radiotherapy, irradiation, or x-ray therapy.
Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. It’s often part of the treatment for certain types of cancer, such as cancers of the head and neck, bladder, lung, and Hodgkin disease. Many other cancers are also treated with radiation therapy.
Radiation can be given alone or used with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy. In fact, certain drugs are known to be radiosensitizers (ray-dee-oh-SENS-it-tie-zers). This means they can actually make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation, which helps the radiation to better kill cancer cells.
There are also different ways to give radiation. Sometimes a patient gets more than one type of radiation treatment for the same cancer.
Last Medical Review: 05/02/2014
Last Revised: 05/02/2014