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Radiation Therapy

When you need cancer care, you want the latest treatment options from top cancer specialists with proven expertise. At Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, you’ll find radiation oncologists who lead the field in research-backed patient care.

Radiation Therapy: Why Choose Penn Medicine?

We offer every treatment option available in radiation therapy, with sophisticated technology and years of experience in treatment planning. Using specialized techniques, our cancer experts maximize the effects of radiation on cancer while reducing exposure to healthy tissues.

People come to the Abramson Cancer Center because we offer:

  • Team expertise in radiation therapy: With subspecialized training, our radiation oncologists, radiation physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapists and radiation oncology nurses have an international reputation for excellence in patient care. Our experienced teams offer the most up-to-date treatment options for people who have any cancer that can be treated with radiation.
  • Focus on specific tumor types: You’ll receive care from radiation therapy experts who specialize in treating tumors in specific areas of the body. Your care team has the exceptional experience and insight to provide safe, effective treatment.
  • Comprehensive range of treatments: At the Abramson Cancer Center, you have access to every type of radiation therapy. In addition to standard therapies, our clinical research trials offer eligible patients the latest treatment options before they are widely available.
  • Nationally accredited radiation centers: Our facilities have earned accreditation by the American Society for Radiation Oncology. This recognition shows Penn Medicine’s commitment to the highest standards of safety and care.
  • Improved care through research and education: We conduct research and participate in clinical trials aimed at improving treatment effectiveness and patients’ quality of life. As part of our commitment to improved cancer care, our radiation oncologists and other specialists teach the next generation of cancer doctors.

What Is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation from X-rays, protons, gamma rays and other energy sources to destroy cancer cells. Radiation can be:

  • External, coming from machines outside the body that deliver radiation beams into the body (external-beam radiation therapy)
  • Internal, delivered by radioactive material that is placed in or near tumors in the body (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy)

Cancer cells grow and divide faster than normal cells. Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA inside cells. This treatment prevents cancer cells from growing and dividing and causes them to die. Radiation also affects nearby healthy cells, but they can repair the damage.

Radiation Therapy for Cancer Treatment

Radiation therapy can treat almost any type of cancer. Whether you need radiation therapy — and the type of radiation you need — depends on your general health and the type of cancer.

Your care team at the Abramson Cancer Center will determine when and how to include radiation therapy in your treatment plan. We may suggest radiation therapy:

  • As your only (primary) treatment
  • In combination with chemotherapy or other treatments, such as immunotherapy
  • Before surgery, to shrink a cancerous tumor (neoadjuvant therapy)
  • After surgery, to destroy any remaining cancer cells (adjuvant therapy)
  • In advanced stages of cancer to relieve symptoms

Radiation Therapy: What to Expect

Watch this video to find out what to expect during radiation therapy at Penn.

Types of Radiation Therapy

We offer every form of radiation therapy to treat cancerous and noncancerous tumors.

Internal Radiation Therapy

Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) involves placing a radiation source, such as capsules, ribbons or seeds, inside the body. The radiation source stays in or near a tumor for anywhere from a few minutes to years, depending on your individual needs. The Abramson Cancer Center offers many types of brachytherapy, including MammoSite®.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a form of radiation therapy that delivers highly precise doses of radiation from outside the body to targeted areas inside the body. Despite the word “surgery” in the name, SRS involves no incisions.

Learn more about stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and some of the types available at the Abramson Cancer Center:

Other Types of External-Beam Radiation Therapy

Our cancer specialists have expertise in many other types of external-beam radiation therapy, including:

Radiation Therapy FAQs and Videos

Find answers to many of your frequently asked questions about radiation therapy.

Contact Us

To learn more about radiation therapy and other cancer treatment at Penn Medicine, please call 800-789-7366 (PENN). You can also request an appointment online.