The cells responsible for cancer start their journey much like any other in the body. However, they grow uncontrollably through the body as a result of the accumulation of certain mutations. If left unchecked, cancer will impact on a number of the human body’s key processes, leading, ultimately, to death. There are many challenges associated with treating this disease, but they generally stem from the difficulty in differentiating the disease from the host and the ability of even a few cells to survive, recover and return. The most common treatments generally combine surgery with some type of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Chemotherapy utilises chemicals that kill fast-growing cells and thereby disproportionally affect the rapidly multiplying cancer cells. Radiotherapy targets the tumour with radiation to cause damage and cell death. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both are often not 100 per cent effective. To improve these treatments, it is necessary to understand more about their precise effects on cells and, particularly, what defences cells have against their effects. Senior Principal Researcher Dr Masao Suzuki of the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST) is utilising the considerable radiological resources of QST to investigate the effects of different types of radiation on cells under different conditions.