Techniques and types of EBRT

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) can be given using different techniques and different types of radiation. Your treatment centre may not offer all methods, but your radiation oncologist will recommend the most appropriate combination for you.

Learn more about these types of EBRT:

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Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT)

  • Common type of EBRT.
  • Uses imaging scans (see previous page) to help plan the treatment.
  • A computer uses the scans to precisely map the location of the cancer within the body.
  • The radiation is then shaped (conformed) so that the cancer receives most of the radiation, and surrounding tissues receive much less.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

  • Highly accurate type of conformal radiation therapy.
  • Shapes and divides multiple radiation beams into tiny beams (beamlets) that vary in strength.
  • Widely used for most cancer types, especially for curative treatment.
  • Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) and helical tomotherapy (HT) are specialised forms of IMRT that use a treatment machine that rotates around the body.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

  • Uses a treatment machine that takes x-rays or scans at the start of each session.
  • Markers (usually grains of gold) may be inserted into the cancer so they can be seen in the x-rays or scans.
  • Positioning can be very finely adjusted, often to millimetre accuracy.
  • Radiation oncologists may recommend IGRT for areas likely to be affected by movement, such as the lungs and liver when you breathe, or the prostate when the fullness of your bladder or bowel varies.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)

  • Specialised type of radiation therapy.
  • Combines many small radiation fields to give precisely targeted radiation in one single high dose.
  • Used to treat small cancers in the brain while minimising the radiation reaching healthy brain tissue.
  • A custom-made mask keeps the head still during SRS.
  • Despite the name, this is not surgery and does not involve any surgical cuts.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

  • Similar to SRS, this method allows a few high doses of radiation to be delivered very precisely.
  • May be used to treat small cancers in the body, including small lung or liver cancers or small metastases (cancer that has spread away from the primary cancer).
  • Sometimes called stereotactic ablative body radiation therapy (SABR).

Proton therapy

  • Uses radiation from protons rather than x-rays.
  • Protons are tiny parts of atoms with a positive charge that release most of their radiation within the cancer – useful when the cancer is near sensitive areas, such as the brainstem or spinal cord, especially in children.
  • Special machines, known as cyclotrons and synchrotrons, are used to generate and deliver the protons.
  • Proton therapy is not yet available in Australia (as at December 2017), but there is funding in special cases to allow Australians to travel overseas for treatment.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet of Understanding Radiation Therapy.

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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in December 2017
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