Radiation Oncology is the use of electromagnetic beams to treat or control the spread of cancerous cells. The electromagnetic beams or radiation is controlled and directed only to the tumor.
That way, it only damages the cell structure of the cancer cells without harming the healthy cells adversely. The medical term for the actual radiation treatment is Radiation Therapy.
Types of Specialists
The three medical specialists involved in radiation oncology are:
• Radiation Oncologists
• Radiation Therapist
• Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists (ROMP)
These medical doctors have undergone specialist training on the use of radiation therapy to treat and manage cancer and its symptoms.
They assess the patient, prescribe the best treatment plan, and monitor the individual progress of each patient. Once the patient completes their treatment, the Oncologist is the one who gives post treatment consultations.
The Oncologist manages any other developments that might come up, and they work in close collaboration with Radiation Therapists and Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists.
They are the first health care professional that patients who are undergoing radiation therapy treatment meet.
These technicians deliver the radiation treatment to the patients. They become familiar with the patients because they work together in the management of the cancer treatment on a regular basis.
Once they receive the patient’s radiation treatment as prescribed by the Radiation Oncologists, they calculate the radiation plan and then operate the radiation equipment.
They also use advanced imaging technology to make sure that only the cancerous cells get the radiation. They can answer the common questions related to the radiation treatment.
They also forward other concerns raised by the patient to the appropriate health care professional.
Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists (ROMP)
These medical technicians install and calibrate the radiation therapy equipment. They work with the Radiation Oncologists and Radiation Therapists to ensure that the equipment is safe to use.
They also ensure that radiation prescriptions are within safe limits. They never meet with patients because their primary task revolves around the maintenance of the radiation machine and radiation room.
Radiation Therapy Machine
A radiation therapy device provides treatment using an external radiation beam. A linear accelerator generates the beam.
The machine ejects electrons at a high velocity, sending them to a target made of metal. When the electron hits the metal target, some of the energy converts to x-rays, providing the radiation therapy.
Brachytherapy is a radiation treatment where a radiation source is enclosed in needles, wires or catheters. It is surgically implanted in into the tumor or near it. It is commonly used to treat cancers of the uterus, breast, cervix, or prostate.
Radiation Treatment Plans
Sometimes, patients only need radiation therapy alone; such is the case with cancer of the larynx and prostate. There are cases where the patient requires radiation therapy and surgery, known as Adjuvant Treatment.
When the radiation treatment happens before surgery, it’s called Neoadjuvant Radiation Therapy. That type of therapy is used to increases the chances a cure. It’s often used to treat cancers of the lungs, rectal, or esophageal.
When a patient is treated using a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, where drugs or chemical substances are used to treat cancer, the treatment is Modality Therapy.
Modality Therapy is done to lower the amount of radiation exposure the patient will get. Such treatment is standard in the treatment of cancer of the bladder.
Unlike other forms of cancer treatments, radiation therapy is more affordable, non-invasive, and is pivotal in about 40% of all cured cases. Radiation therapy was first used shortly after 1895 when Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered the x-ray.
Furthermore, radiation therapy causes minimal tissues damage, has fewer side effects, and it offers pain relief to patients who are terminally ill.