Karmanos Cancer Institute
Radiation Oncology

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of ionizing radiation to treat cancer. In external beam radiation therapy, sometimes called EBRT, special equipment is used to aim the radiation directly at cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy can also be delivered internally, called brachytherapy. Radiation therapy is sometimes called radiotherapy, X-ray therapy, XRT, or irradiation.

Why is radiation therapy given to cancer patients?

  • To cure cancer
  • To keep the cancer from spreading
  • To slow the cancer's growth
  • To relieve symptoms that may be caused by the cancer
  • To ease pain due to cancer

Why are there side effects when someone receives radiation therapy?

Cancer cells grow and divide rapidly. Radiation therapy kills fast-growing cells and keeps them from growing and dividing. The amount and intensity of radiation delivered to surrounding normal cells is minimized since treatment is directed to the desired area with much precision. Side effects that occur and their level of severity depend on the area being treated and the intensity (dose) of the radiation treatment.

Common side effects of radiation therapy

  • Fatigue (most commonly reported side effect among all cancer patients)
  • Skin reaction
  • Other side effects are specific to the area being treated. These possible side effects will be discussed with you at the time of your radiation treatment consultation.

Radiation Therapy Technology

Karmanos' Radiation Oncology Team

  • Leaders in education and clinical training in radiation oncology
  • Actively involved in national efforts to assure safety and accuracy in radiotherapy delivery 
  • Each group is certified by their respective governing body and are validated by external agencies