What is a Radiation Oncologist?
A Radiation Oncologist is a specialist concerned with the diagnosis of cancer and its treatment with radiation therapy. He/she works with your surgeon and medical oncologist to determine your best treatment course. This specialist directs the planning and delivery of your radiation therapy. He/she will care for you during treatment should you experience side-effects. A radiation oncologist will follow you after treatment to monitor your disease and can also assist in pain and disability management.
The goal of all radiation therapy is to irradiate the tumor with a lethal dose of radiation while limiting the radiation received by the normal tissue that surrounds the tumor. Treatments involve sophisticated dose calculations that contour the shape and intensity of the beam to deliver radiation precisely to the targeted area.
There are many forms of radiation delivery systems. Tradiational hardware that uses IMRT (Intensity Modulates Radiation Therapy) can create high dose volumes that are concave in shape and also spare normal issues that are extremely close to and surrounded by the tumor. During each field of treatment, the dose delivered is modulated or adjusted by a multi-leaf collimator (a device that consists of a number of “fingers” or “leaves” which project into the primary beam to create the required shape). These systems are generally limited to a perpendicular rotaion around the patient. Other systems that support IMRT include guidance and imaging so that movement of the tumor and the internal organs can be detected prior to treatment.