What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of energy or radioactive material to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells by preventing them from multiplying. Radiation therapy may be used in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy to treat both common and rare cancers.

Although there are several types of radiation therapy, the most common refers to external beam radiation therapy, delivered from outside the body by a machine called a linear accelerator, which directs high energy beams to the area in the body where cancer is present. Brachytherapy, or internal radiation therapy, uses radioactive sources that are placed directly inside your body near cancer cells.

Both forms of radiation therapy work by destroying the genetic material, or DNA, that controls how the cells grow and divide. The destroyed cells then lose their ability to reproduce, causing tumors to shrink. During the procedure, however, some healthy cells can also be damaged by the radiation, so the goal is to harm as few noncancerous cells as possible while targeting the cancer.

At Smilow Radiation Oncology, we are committed to providing the highest level of safety and most effective treatment. Our Quality Assurance Committee has established a rigorous system of safeguards that meet or exceed medical industry and government standards.  Read more about our commitment to safety.