Is radiation therapy safe?

Is radiation therapy safe?

Radiation therapy uses high-energy ionising radiation to safely treat cancer. Ionising radiation is produced naturally in soil, water and vegetation, and in man-made devices such as x-rays.1

There are three different ways a person may be exposed to radiation: 1

  1. A planned event, where radiation is delivered deliberately with a specific purpose. This includes radiation therapy treatment, where the radiation dose has been carefully planned by a medical professional to safely and accurately meet your needs
  2. Existing exposures, such as exposure to natural sources of radiation or radiation in a workplace
  3. Emergency exposure situations, resulting from unexpected events including nuclear accidents or malicious acts

Extreme levels of radiation received in a short amount of time can cause damage to the body, such as in the case of emergency exposure situations.2

Unlike these events, radiation therapy delivers targeted doses to cancer over multiple treatment sessions. This gives the body time to recover between each treatment session.

You can feel confident knowing Icon’s highly experienced team of radiation therapists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists work together to ensure you receive the safest and most effective radiation therapy treatment for your cancer.

Does radiation therapy make you radioactive?

Radiation therapy does not make you radioactive. External radiation beam therapy delivers high energy x-rays to a specific area of the body, which means the radiation doesn’t stay in your body before or after treatment. It’s completely safe for you to be around other people, including children and pregnant women.

Should you receive permanent brachytherapy, where a radioactive source is placed beside or inside your tumour, you may be slightly radioactive for a short time. The risk to your loved ones is very low, however you may need to avoid prolonged contact with young children and pregnant women during this period. This is because children and fetuses are more sensitive to radiation exposure than adults. 2


For a full list of references, click here.
  1. World Health Organisation. (2016). Ionizing radiation, health effects and protective measures. Retrieved on 1 October 2019 from 
  2. Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. (2019). Health effects of ionising radiation. Retrieved on 1 October 2019 from

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