How Does Radiation Work?

Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: January 26, 2012


How can radiation kill cancer cells and not cause more cancer to develop?


Michael Corradetti, MD, PhD, Radiation Oncology Resident at Penn Medicine, responds:

Radiation treatments kill cancer cells primarily via damage to their DNA. A variety of technologies have been developed to deliver radiation therapies that maximize the dose to the tumor while sparing normal tissue. Unfortunately, there is no technology that limits the dose exclusively to the tumor; as a result, any radiation therapy comes with a small (but real) risk of a secondary malignancy.

Learn more about radiation therapy on OncoLink.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Gynecologic Cancers transcript.


I wish u knew... the rewards of working in radiation oncology
by Timothy J. Hampshire
October 15, 2012

Medicinal Mushrooms – Support and Safety During Breast Cancer
by The 4Wholeness Team
September 29, 2015

Related News

Radiation Reduces Rectal Cancer Recurrence

Oct 4, 2015

Preoperative more effective than postoperative radiation

Childhood Radiation Exposure of Pancreas Linked to Diabetes

Aug 24, 2012

Dose-response association seen for radiation to pancreas tail and diabetes risk

Radiation for Prostate Linked to Later Pelvic Cancer

Oct 4, 2015

Radiation with radical surgery linked to higher rate of late second primary cancer in pelvic area