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Understanding the Physics of Radiation Therapy: A Deep Dive

Updated: May 16


Radiation therapy is a commonly used medical technique in the treatment of cancer. The physics behind radiation therapy is as fascinating as it is crucial for its effectiveness. This blog will provide an overview of the physics of radiation therapy, helping you to better understand its workings and its importance in cancer treatment.

Radiation Therapy

The Essence of Radiation Therapy:

Radiation therapy involves the use of radiation to destroy or damage cancer cells, hindering their growth and spread. Two common types of radiation used are X-rays and gamma rays, which are forms of electromagnetic radiation.

The Physics of X-rays and Gamma Rays:

X-rays and gamma rays are photons, massless particles of energy. The distinction between them lies in their origin: X-rays are produced by electrons outside an atom's nucleus, while gamma rays originate from the nucleus itself.

The physics governing these types of radiation is the same as that of visible light. However, X-rays and gamma rays have much higher energies. This high energy allows the radiation to penetrate tissues and reach tumour cells.

Dosage and Treatment Planning:

Physics also plays a crucial role in dosage and treatment planning in radiation therapy. The goal is to maximise the dose of radiation to the cancer cells while minimising exposure to surrounding healthy tissues and organs.


Physics is an integral part of radiation therapy. Understanding the physics behind radiation therapy can help us appreciate its complexity and its effectiveness in treating cancer. At the end of the day, it's the combination of physics, biology, and medicine that makes this potent, life-saving therapy possible.

We hope this blog has provided a useful and understandable insight into the physics of radiation therapy.

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