Radiation Therapy 101

Rebecca Ruppert, RN, MS



During the 20th century, radiation oncology burgeoned from the experimental application of basic X-rays to a specialized high-tech discipline delivering sophisticated cancer treatments. Today, nearly 60% of cancer patients receive radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) aimed at the specific area where the tumor is located. This article provides a basic overview of radiation therapy, including the various radiation types, side effects, nursing interventions, and patient and family teaching.

Purpose/Goal: To enhance nurses’ ability to care for patients receiving radiation therapy.


1. Name and compare the main types of radiation therapy.
2. Identify the side effects of radiation therapy.
3. Describe at least four nursing interventions for patients receiving radiation therapy.


Rebecca Ruppert, RN, MS, is a palliative care nurse at Salem Hospital in Salem, Oregon. When she wrote this article, she was a care coordinator at the Salem Cancer Institute in Salem, Oregon.

The planners and author of this CNE activity have disclosed no relevant financial relationships with any commercial companies pertaining to this activity.

Contact Hours: 1.6

Expiration Date: 6/30/2013


Member Price: $15.00
Non-Member Price: $20.00

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