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What is external beam radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer. In external beam radiation therapy, a large machine focuses a high dose of radiation at the cancer. The machine moves around you but doesn't touch you. The radiation is invisible and doesn't hurt.

Dr. Dede Bonner
Health Education Specialist

External beam therapy is a method for targeting and delivering a beam of high-energy X-rays to the location of the tumor. The radiation oncologist should use careful planning to protect the surrounding tissues.

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External-beam radiation therapy is used to treat cancer. With external-beam radiation therapy, the radiation comes from outside your body. It is targeted at a specific area of the body. This therapy usually consists of daily treatments over several weeks. A machine called a linear accelerator (LINAC) is the most common machine used to give external-beam radiation. The most common type of external-beam radiation is three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT). This uses computer software to direct the radiation to a very precise area of the body. There are many other forms of external-beam radiation therapy. Your radiologist will know which is right for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.