Radiation therapy for cancer

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Radiation therapy

Around half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy.

Destroying cancer cells

There are many ways to have radiation therapy but they all work in a similar way. Carefully controlled high-energy X-rays destroy or damage cancer cells. This stops them growing or spreading.

Radiation therapy is usually delivered in daily intervals called ‘fractions’. This allows time between treatments for the healthy cells to repair and the cancer cells to die off.

Advanced radiation therapy services

At GenesisCare, we’re always pushing the boundaries of technology to develop better radiation therapy treatments. Targeting the cancer cells in tumours without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.

Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) is a type of radiation therapy. It involves placing a tiny amount of radioactive material into, or next to the tumour. Depending on the type of cancer being treated, material may be inserted using a very thin needle or wire, an applicator, or radioactive beads or ‘seeds’.

Brachytherapy at GenesisCare

Find out more about brachytherapy, including how it works and who it’s for.

Deep inspiration breath hold

Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) is a simple technique used to treat cancer in the breast or chest wall. It’s precisely targeted so there’s less chance of damage to the heart and lungs.

DIBH at GenesisCare

Find out more about DIBH, including how it works and who it’s for.

External beam radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. Before your treatment begins, we’ll take some imaging scans to establish the precise shape, size and location of the tumour. If your treatment is after your tumour removal surgery, then we’ll take scans to examine the area where the tumour was removed.

EBRT at GenesisCare

Find out more about EBRT, including how it works and who it’s for.

Gamma knife

Gamma Knife isn’t a physical knife, and there’s no surgery involved. It’s a non-invasive alternative to neurosurgery.

Gamma knife at GenesisCare

Find out more about Gamma knife, including how it works and who it’s for.

Image-guided radiation therapy

IGRT uses X-rays and scans before, and during, your treatment. It’s used to verify your position and anatomy before the treatment machine is turned on.

  • The scans show the exact shape, size and location of the tumour. We can then make tiny adjustments to precisely target the treatment area
  • IGRT can target cancers that move during, or between, treatment sessions. For example, lung cancers that move as you breathe. Or prostate cancer that can move depending on whether your bowel is full or empty

Intensity modulated radiation therapy

IMRT is a ‘conformal’ radiation therapy. This means radiation beams are shaped to surround the treatment area, so it avoids damaging surrounding healthy tissue.

IMRT at GenesisCare

Find out more about IMRT, including how it works and who it’s for.

MR-Linac

MR-Linac technology combines high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning techniques with extremely powerful radiotherapy beams to treat tumours more accurately and quicker than conventional radiation therapy. This type of radiation therapy is called magnetic resonance image guided radiation therapy (MRIgRT).

MR-Linac at GenesisCare

Find out more about MR-Linac, including how it works and who it’s for.

Palliative radiation therapy

Palliative radiation therapy’s aim isn’t to cure cancer. We focus on giving you a better quality of life by controlling your symptoms.

Palliative radiation therapy at GenesisCare

Find out more about palliative radiation therapy, including how it works and who it’s for.

Prostate cancer spacers

Prostate spacers is an option for men having radiation therapy for prostate cancer. It’s a water-based soft gel implant that temporarily creates a small gap between the prostate and the rectum. This gap protects the rectum from radiation exposure during prostate radiation therapy, meaning fewer side-effects.

Prostate spacers at GenesisCare

Find out more about prostate cancer spacers, including how it works and who it’s for.

Radiation therapy for skin cancer

We use the latest treatment techniques to treat skin cancer without the use of surgery or general anaesthetic.

Radiation therapy skin cancer at GenesisCare

Find out more about radiation therapy skin cancer , including how it works and who it’s for.

Stereotactic ablative radiation therapy

SABR targets tumours in the body with high doses of radiation therapy. It destroys cancer cells with minimum damage to surrounding healthy tissues.

SABR at GenesisCare

Find out more about SABR, including how it works and who it’s for.

Stereotactic radiosurgery

SRS is a non-surgical treatment for some types of cranial cancers. It delivers high doses of precisely targeted radiation therapy which reduces damage to nearby healthy tissue.

  • It’s often used to treat small tumours of the brain
  • It’s accurate to within one to two millimetres

Surface guided radiation therapy

SGRT uses sophisticated 3D camera technology to accurately target and kill cancer cells.

SGRT at GenesisCare

Find out more about SGRT, including how it works and who it’s for.

Tomotherapy

Tomotherapy is a type of IMRT. It combines the technologies of a CT scanner (providing 3D images) and an IMRT machine to accurately target a tumour.

  • Creating a 3D image of the tumour means we can target the beams precisely. We adjust the treatment to the size, shape and location of the treatment area
  • The tumour is given a very high dose of radiation. The healthy surrounding tissue gets a much lower dose, reducing the risk of side-effects

Volumetric modulated arc therapy

Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) is a type of IMRT. VMAT is very accurate and maximises radiation to the tumour. The surrounding healthy tissue receives a much lower dose, reducing the risk of side-effects.

  • VMAT delivers a continuous beam of radiation therapy in an arc that moves around the tumour. It automatically changes the beam shape and radiation dose as it moves
  • Treatment sessions with VMAT are usually short – around 10 minutes
  • VMAT can be used when the tumour is close to critical organs. It helps them avoid being damaged by radiation

VMAT at GenesisCare

Find out more about VMAT, including how it works and who it’s for.

Side effects

Radiation therapy is a common cancer treatment in Australia.

  1. Tiredness
  2. Skin changes
  3. Swelling and build up of fluids
  4. Hair loss
  5. Stress, anxiety and other coping issues are also common

Helpful resources

 We understand that you may still have some unanswered questions, and we’re here to help you in any way we can. But if you are still seeking answers visit Targeting Cancer for further information about radiation therapy or contact a staff member from a centre near you.

Disclaimer

Any procedure including treatments involving radiation carry risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with a referral for treatment, patients should be advised to seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. As in any medical procedure, patient experiences and outcomes will vary.