What is a Radiation Oncologist?
A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer patients, using radiation therapy as the main mode of treatment. Specifically in mesothelioma patients, treatments can be given as a curative modality either alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. It may also be palliative, meaning simply to relieve mesothelioma symptoms and not intended to cure, or prolong a patient’s life. Radiation oncologists work closely with other physicians such as surgical oncologists, medical oncologists and other surgeons as part of a multi-faceted cancer team.
In the United States those studying radiation oncology must undergo four years of residency, in addition to an internship. During their residency, physicians learn about oncology, the physics and biology of ionizing radiation, and the treatment of patients with radiation. Radiation oncology is one of the most competitive residencies, so after completion of their training, a radiation oncologist is well schooled in the art of radiation and qualified to handle cancer cases without supervision.
Although the number of patients diagnosed with cancer annually have not lowered as much as one may have hoped, it is important to note that the amount of cancer deaths per diagnosis have dramatically declined in the past few years. A report from the New York Times stated that in 2007, 12,000 fewer cancer patients died than did in 1993. The report also stated that the progress comes from early detection. With mesothelioma having a latency period of 20 to 50 years, it is very difficult for someone to see early signs of sickness. That being the case, research states that it is important for a person to get regular check-ups and seek medical attention if any sort of abnormal symptoms become present.
An area that has shown great improvement over the years is radiation therapy. With highly sophisticated technologies and equipment, beams of radiation are more precise and go directly to the affected area without damaging surrounding tissues.
Be Involved, Ask Questions!
It is important that the patient and his or her family feel comfortable with their doctors. It is also good to know that if they ever have any questions or need further explanation of a therapy or treatment, their oncologist will be there to help. Mesothelioma diagnosis is a scary process and whatever aid a doctor can provide a patient and their family with, they will do their best to provide.
- Gib, Art. “Radiation Oncology And Advancements In Cancer Research.” 27 December 2007: n. pag. Web. Retrieved on 7 Apr 2011 by Easy Article Submit.