External Beam Radiation | Radiation Therapy in Des Moines
UnityPoint Health - John Stoddard Cancer Center

External Beam Radiation

One of the common forms of radiation therapy used at Stoddard is external beam radiation therapy. This technique involves directing a "beam" of radiation from outside of your body to the cancerous organ and/or tissue within your body. External beam radiation is applied by a linear accelerator, a high-energy X-ray machine. The linear accelerator directs the radiation at the tumor. The procedure itself lasts only a few minutes. It is administered over a period of six to eight weeks, typically five days a week.

Recent advances in radiation therapy can more accurately target the tumor with higher doses of radiation, while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. External beam radiation therapy poses no risk of radioactivity to you or others with whom you have contact. You can continue normal activities with family and friends.

Stoddard is one of the first in Iowa to offer patients a powerful new diagnostic imaging system known as PET/CT. With PET/CT, physicians can make more accurate diagnoses, develop more targeted external beam treatment plans, and do better, less-invasive treatment monitoring, which should result in improved patient outcomes. A PET/CT scan is noninvasive, painless and takes about 30 minutes. Read more in our Patient Information Guide to PET/CT.