Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Project Type


College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

William Hersman


Radiation therapy uses high energy radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy for cancer treatment can take the form of photon therapy (using x-rays and gamma rays), or charged particle therapy including proton therapy and electron therapy. Within these categories, numerous methods of delivery have been developed. For example, a certain type of radiation can be administered by a machine outside of the body, called external-beam radiation therapy, or by a “seed” placed inside of the body near cancer cells, called internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy. Approximately half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy, and the form of radiation treatment depends on the type of tumor, location of the tumor, available resources, and characteristics of the individual receiving treatment. In the current paper, we discuss and review the various forms of radiation therapy, the physics behind these treatments, the effectiveness of each treatment type compared with the others, the latest research on radiation therapy treatment, and future research directions. We found that proton therapy is the most promising and effective form of radiation therapy, with photon methods such as intensity modulated radiation therapy, 3D-conformal radiation therapy, image guided radiation therapy, and volumetric modulated radiation therapy also showing very good comparative performance.