What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment of cancer by delivering high-energy beams directly to a tumor, or intended target.

Radiation therapy is a common form of treatment for cancer today. According to the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), two out of three cancer patients will receive radiation therapy—either alone or in combination with other treatment approaches, such as surgery and chemotherapy. Each case is unique and your physician is the best person to decide on the suitability of radiation therapy for your treatment.

Radiation therapy has two equally important goals: to control the growth of the tumor and to do so while minimizing exposure to the surrounding normal, healthy tissue. Radiation therapy is broadly divided into external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), where radiation is delivered to the target from an external machine, and brachytherapy, where radiation is delivered by placing the radiation source inside the body near the intended target. Both techniques are used for treating a large variety of tumor types.