Radiation therapy

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 23 Mar 2023

Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy, is a common oncologic treatment modality utilizing ionizing radiation to control or eliminate malignant cells. Radiotherapy plays a role in primary curative treatment (eg. head and neck cancer), adjuvant therapy (e.g. reducing recurrence rate after local breast cancer surgery) and palliation of cancer symptoms (e.g. reducing pain from bone metastases). Radiotherapy may be used alone, or synergistically with chemotherapy or immunotherapy, e.g. "chemoradiotherapy" etc.

Radiotherapy is also, less commonly, used to treat non-malignant disease, e.g. Graves thyroiditis, keloid scarring, etc.


Radiotherapy is commonly abbreviated to RTRTxDXT (deep x-ray therapy) and XRT (x-ray therapy) in medical records. 


Radiotherapy is customarily divided into three main categories:

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