Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses a controlled dose of radiation to kill cancer cells or damage them so they cannot grow, multiply or spread. The radiation is usually in the form of focused x-ray beams, also known as photons. It can also be in other forms such as electron beams, proton beams or gamma rays from radioactive sources.

It is a localised treatment, which means it generally affects only the part of the body where the radiation is targeted.

  Read more of Jackie’s story

Learn more about:

Listen to a podcast on Making Treatment Decisions

Radiation therapy for children

This information is for adults having radiation therapy, although much of it will also be relevant for children. Talk to your treatment team for specific information about radiation therapy for children.

For age-appropriate support and resources, you might also want to contact:

  • Camp Quality – supports children aged 0–13 and their families. Call 1300 662 267.
  • CanTeen – supports young people aged 12–25 who have been affected by cancer. Call 1800 226 833.

Video: What is radiation therapy?

If you have cancer, radiation therapy (also known as radiotherapy) may play a big role in your treatment plan. Learn more in this short video.

This information was last reviewed in December 2017
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Ask a health professional or someone who’s been there, or find a support group or forum

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono legal and financial matters, no interest loans or help with small business

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends