What Is Radiation Therapy?

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy is a critical tool for oncologists, and is one of the most common treatments for cancer. Radiation therapy can be given alone or combined with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy. 

Radiation therapy works by damaging cancer cells' ability to grow. A medical linear accelerator is used to create and aim high-energy X-rays and electrons at tumors and cancerous tissue. 

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy is an advanced method of focused radiation therapy in which computer-controlled beams are aimed from various directions. This allows more radiation to reach the treatment area while reducing damage to healthy tissues. It is one of the most precise forms of external beam radiation therapy.

Each session is painless, like getting an X-ray. External beam radiation is non-invasive, usually given as a series of outpatient treatments. The radiation therapist administers external beam treatment according to the radiation oncologist's instructions. Time spent in the treatment room may vary depending on the type of radiation, generally from 10 to 40 minutes. The number of radiation treatments needed depends on the size, location and type of cancer.

During radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist and nurse will see you on a regular basis to follow your progress. The oncology team will review your case to ensure treatment is proceeding as planned.

Island Cancer Center features a Varian Clinac® iX, the most widely selected medical accelerator. The Clinac is designed to deliver a high-dose rate for fast, accurate treatment times with great precision, accuracy and reliability.