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What is 3D conformal radiation?

3D conformal radiation is a radiation therapy technique that allows doctors to sculpt radiation beams to the shape of a tumor. It is typically used on tumors that have irregular shapes and lay close to healthy tissues and organs, and may limit radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. In addition, this radiation technology allows doctors to view a tumor in three dimensions. Based on these images, the equipment is then used to deliver radiation beams from several directions to the tumor.

Our approach

At Northwell Health Cancer Institute, 3D conformal radiation is among the many advanced therapies we use to treat cancer while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

All radiotherapies, including those using 3D conformal radiation, are offered in a caring and professional environment by specialists dedicated to making each patient visit as informative and stress-free as possible. This begins with an in-depth conversation describing the treatment, including what to expect, possible side effects and goals. The personalized treatment also includes careful consideration of current health, family history, age and patient preferences.

All radiation therapies are administered using evidence-based medicine. A multidisciplinary team of doctors, including radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, medical oncologists and radiology oncologists, collaborates on treatment plans to ensure that every aspect of treatment is precisely coordinated for the best possible outcome. This includes ongoing peer review and chart rounds.

Because convenience is a priority, we offer multiple locations for radiation therapy to enable you to obtain treatment near where you live or work. 

Research at Northwell

Advances in radiation oncology are continuously happening at Northwell Health Cancer Institute, allowing us to provide better care and more innovative technologies and treatments for patients. Through alliances with leading research organizations such as Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, we participate in investigator-initiated trials to offer the most leading-edge therapies available. 

Northwell Health Cancer Institute is recognized worldwide for its commitment to providing pioneering treatment for cancer patients. Our ongoing focus on improving cancer treatments has contributed to significant advancements that are improving quality of life and survival rates for cancer patients.

Learn more about clinical trials and research happening at Northwell Health Cancer Institute.

What to expect

Prior to receiving 3D conformal radiation therapy, you will be asked to provide a complete medical history and may have to undergo a thorough physical examination to ensure you are in good health. Blood tests and other diagnostic tests may be performed. It is important for you to notify your healthcare provider about any sensitivities or allergies to medication, latex, tape, contrast dyes, iodine or anesthetic agents.

Your attending neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist, who will be treating you with this therapy, will review all treatment options and discuss the risks specific to your treatment.


Because 3D conformal radiation therapy is an outpatient procedure, you will be observed for a period of time and then discharged home. You will not likely have a great amount of pain from the procedure. Over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol or Motrin, can alleviate any discomfort.

Possible side effects

Some patients have no side effects at all. However, when side effects do occur, they are typically related to the specific area that is being treated. Side effects may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mild skin reactions
  • Hair loss
  • Upset stomach

Most side effects usually go away after treatment ends. However, you may feel very tired for four to six weeks after your last treatment. Talk to your doctor about ways to treat potential side effects.

Support groups

Cancer is challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone. At Northwell Health Cancer Institute, a wide range of support groups are available to help you cope with diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment issues.

Learn more about support groups.

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