Physics of radiotherapy

Medical Physics, Second Cycle
1 year
Hours per week – 2. semester:

Regular enrolement

Content (Syllabus outline)

Principles of radiotherapy: radiotherapy and other tumor therapies
Radiation sources in radiotherapy: low energy source, Co-60 source, linear accelerators, cyclotrons, dose measurements, beam calibration
Radiotherapy of photon beams: dose distribution of a single beam, measurements, TAR, TMR, SAR, Burns law, Mayneord factor, Clarks integrals, air cavities and other heteroggeneities, wedges, compensators
Radiotherapy of electron beams: dose distribution of a single beam, range, energy, contamination, measurements, heterogeneity corrections, special techniques
Treatment planning: narrow beams and 3D kernels, data necessary for modeling, model fitting, modeling of non-standard beams, beam combinations, arc therapies, tomotherapy, treatment planning specifics of different tumors
Brachytherapy: sources and dose distributions, dose calculation models, HDR and LDR brachytherapy, brachytherapy equipment
Hadron beam therapy: proton beam therapy and heavy ion therapy


• Faiz M. Khan, The physics of radiation therapy, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Publishers; 3rd edition (May 31, 2003), 650pp. ISBN: 0781730651
• Harold E. Johns and John R. Cunningham, The physics of radiology, Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd; 4th edition (December 1983), 796 pp. ISBN: 0398046697
• S. J. Karzmark and Robert J. Morton, A primer on theory and operation of linear accelerators in radiation therapy, Medical Physics Pub Corp; 2nd edition (January 1998), 50 pp. ISBN: 0944838669
• Jacob Van Dyk, The modern technology of radiation oncology, Medical Physics Pub Corp; (October 1999), 824 pp. ISBN: 094483838

Objectives and competences

Students get familiar with the radiotherapy fundamentals.

Competences: Understanding of the photon, electron and other radiation therapy beam production and beam characteristics. Ability to solve concrete problems related to radiotherapy dosimetry. Ability to connect theorectical predictions with experimental data in radiotherapy. Critical evaluation and use of new advances in radiation therapy (e.g., new treatment techniques). Development of skils and techniques to understand specifics of radiation beam characteristics.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
Obtaining basic knowledge in radiation therapy, understand external and internal radiation sources and know different types of radiation dose calculations and measurements.
Use of knowledge about fundamental characteristics of radiation treatment fields to be able to solve problems in radiation therapy with external and internal source.
Critical evaluation of theoretical predictions with the experimental measurements of radiation fields in radiation therapy.
Transferable skills:
Ability to collect the data and critically evaluate new literature in the field of radiation therapy. Critical evaluation of radiation therapy measurements. Ability to communicate with experts from similar fields (especially medical fields).

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, problem solving, homework, consultations.


Written exam (theory)
Written exam (problem solving), homework
Subject is also a part of the final committee exam. Marks: pass/fail (according to the UL rules).
grading: 5 (fail), 6-10 (pass) (according to the Statute of UL)

Lecturer's references
  1. Jeraj, R., Mackie, T.R., Balog, J., and Olivera, G., Dose calibration of nonconventional treatment systems applied to helical tomotherapy, Med Phys 32(2), 2005, 570-7.
  2. Jeraj, R., Mackie, T.R., Balog, J., Olivera, G., Pearson, D., Kapatoes, J., Ruchala, K., and Reckwerdt, P., Radiation characteristics of helical tomotherapy, Med Phys 31(2), 2004, 396-404.
  3. Jeraj, R., Wu, C., and Mackie, T.R., Optimizer convergence and local minima errors and their clinical importance, Phys Med Biol 48(17), 2003, 2809-27.