Treatment by Cancer Type

Radiation therapy is often prescribed to treat cancer. It may be used alone or with chemotherapy, depending upon the type of cancer and location within the body.

  • With external radiation therapy—also called radiotherapy— a machine called a linear accelerator (or "linac") targets a beam of radiation at the cancer site from outside the body. The radiation beam is painless and treatment itself lasts only a few minutes. Treatment is delivered on a daily basis (weekdays) over the course of a number of weeks.
  • With internal radiation therapy—also called "brachytherapy" [brake-ee-THER-uh-pee])—a radioactive implant(s) is placed very close to or inside the tumor. The implant(s) may reside permanently inside the patient or may be removed at a later time. Treatment may require a hospital stay.

Learn more about types of radiation therapies and about chemotherapy.