Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation and radioactive substances to damage and kill cancer cells. 

Cancer can be treated with different types of radiation therapy, including external radiation therapy, brachytherapy and systemic radiation therapy. 

  • External radiation therapy uses a machine that points a radiation beam at your cancer cells. 
  • Brachytherapy places a radiation source inside your body near your cancer. This type of treatment is less common and may be used alone or with other radiation treatments.
  • Systemic radiation therapy uses radioactive substances that travel in your blood to your cancer cells.

You can learn more about radiation therapy by using the related resources on the right side of this page.

How radiation therapy is given

 Radiation therapy is given daily. Your treatment may take place over several days or weeks, and you may start your treatment on any day of the week.

Each of your radiation therapy appointments will take about 10 to 30 minutes. If you are receiving external radiation therapy, most of this time is spent positioning you for treatment. The radiation beam is usually only on for 1 to 2 minutes.

Where radiation therapy is given

You will receive your radiation therapy in a hospital. Kingston General Hospital is the only hospital in our region that offers radiation therapy. 

You can learn more about where radiation therapy is given and what to expect at your radiation therapy appointment by using the related services on the right side of this page.

Side effects of radiation therapy

The side effects of radiation therapy depend on:

  • The type of radiation.
  • The part of your body getting treated.
  • The dose of radiation your oncologist has prescribed.

Your cancer care team will talk with you about what side effects to expect before your treatment starts. You will also get information on how to manage these side effects if they occur. 

Each day, the radiation therapists will check you for any side effects.