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.

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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
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