Back to Basics: Radiobiology in Radiation Therapy

Jacqueline (Kim) Mylan, MBA, RT(T)*

*Program Dean and Instructor Emeritus, Radiation Therapy, Cambridge College of Healthcare and Technology, Delray Beach, FL.

Address correspondence to: Jacqueline (Kim) Mylan, MBA, RT(T). E-mail:


When looking at the radiobiological effects of radiation, it is important to separate radiation based on how various types of radiation damages cells and tissues differently. Radiation therapists and radiologic technologists (RTs) need to understand not only the different types of radiation based on how energy is deposited, but also how this radiation damage affects the body. While studying radiobiology, it is helpful to examine the effects of radiation on individual cells, tissues, and organ systems. Then, a thorough review of total body acute syndromes and the late-effects of radiation can be conducted. Beginning with understanding the radiobiologic effects on a single cell and expanding that understand to long-term effects on the body overall, one can gain a better insight into the total overall effects of radiation. In addition to the above, this course will also review the basics of cell division and replication, the development of chromosomal and DNA abnormalities as a result of radiation exposure, how different types of radiation effect cells, organs, and tissue, linear energy transfer, survival curves, and the different types of cancer that can develop as a result of radiation exposure.

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