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About Radiation Treatment

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

About Radiation Treatment

Radiation treatment uses high-energy particles to destroy or damage cancer cells. Special equipment is used to aim the radiation to the area of the body where there is cancer.

The radiation destroys or damages the cancer cells so they cannot grow or spread.

Radiation damages cancer cells and normal cells. After treatment, most normal cells will recover and work properly. The goal of radiation treatment is to damage as many cancer cells as possible, while limiting harm to healthy tissue.

To protect normal cells, your doctor will:

  • Carefully plan the dose of radiation
  • Spread the treatment out over time
  • Protect normal tissue

Your Penn/CHOP Radiation Oncology Team

Your child will be cared for by a team of oncologists from Penn and CHOP. This team has been working together, for years, caring for children receiving radiation treatment. Your CHOP/Penn team will coordinate and deliver all aspects of your child’s treatment and follow-up care. The members of your team have special education in cancer and radiation treatments. They are here to support you and your child throughout the cancer experience.

  • Radiation oncologist: A doctor who is trained in using radiation to treat cancer.
  • Medical oncologist: A doctor who is trained in treating children and adolescents with cancer.
  • Pediatric Anesthesiologist: A doctor who is trained in giving anesthesia to children and adolescents.
  • Radiation physicist: Makes sure radiation equipment is working properly and determines the correct dose as prescribed by your radiation oncologist
  • Dosimetrist: Supervised by the radiation physicist, the dosimetrist helps the doctor plan the treatment dose.
  • Radiation therapist: Operates the radiation equipment and positions your child for treatment. Delivers the treatment as prescribed by the radiation oncologist.
  • Oncology nurses: Have received training in cancer and can provide you with information about radiation and side effects.
  • Dietitian: Provide support and information about nutrition to help maintain strength and promote recovery.
  • Social Worker: Provides support and information on specific issues or concerns you may have. Can also provide information about the Cancer Center, appointments, and community resources.
  • Child Life Specialist: A person with training in dealing with issues children and adolescents face during illness, particularly as it relates to a child’s age and development. Can provide special support during treatments and procedures.
  • Post Anesthesia Care Nurses: Nurses who have received special training in the care of pediatric patients receiving anesthesia.

See all articles: Radiation Treatment: A Parent’s Guide

Download full Radiation Treatment: A Parent’s Guide [PDF]