What is Radiation Therapy?

Southern Tasmania Area Health ServicesTasmanian Health Service - Southern Region

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy is a localised treatment of cancer and some non-cancerous conditions using ionising radiation.  Radiation alone can be used to cure cancer or to relieve the pain or symptoms associated with the cancer.  Radiation therapy may be used in combination with other treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy to increase the probability of a positive result,

Radiation is used to destroy cancer cells located in the area of treatment.  It may also damage normal healthy tissue within the treatment area.  However, the body is able to repair the normal healthy cells and they regrow.  The cancer cells cannot repair themselves, so they are destroyed.  For this reason, a treatment regime is usually delivered on a daily basis over a period of time.  This gives the healthy cells time to recover and continues to damage the cancer cells with every treatment.  The type and stage of cancer will determine how much radiation needs to be given and for how many treatment days.  It is important to note that the radiation oncologist considers many factors when deciding the treatment to be prescribed. This is why the number of treatment sessions for individual patients can vary. The radiation oncologist will also ask you to sign a consent form.

Use the links below for more information on the treatment process.

  1. Planning
  2. Treatment
  3. Side-effects
  4. Radiation Therapy - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)