Radiation oncology is one of the three main specialties of oncology. The other two are surgical and medical oncology.
Radiation oncologists work closely with other members of a multidisciplinary cancer care team. This includes other oncologists, oncology nurses, pathologists and diagnostic radiologists.
Radiation therapy is a common treatment option for people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. It is typically combined with surgery and chemotherapy as part of a multimodal treatment plan.
As with surgical and medical oncologists, radiation oncologists can specialize in treating certain cancers.
Pleural mesothelioma patients should receive radiation therapy from an oncologist with experience treating this rare cancer. This includes thoracic radiologists who work for mesothelioma cancer centers.
Meeting with a Radiation Oncologist
Before a mesothelioma patient receives radiation therapy, they will go through an initial consultation with a radiation oncologist.
The radiation oncologist will discuss the best approach for your case. The most common type of radiation therapy for mesothelioma is intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). This is a form of external-beam radiation therapy.
IMRT uses specialized equipment to aim high-energy X-rays at mesothelioma tumors. A linear accelerator moves around a patient’s body to attack the cancer from multiple angles with varying levels of intensity.
This type of radiation therapy is considered safer for pleural mesothelioma patients because it is tailored to the exact size and shape of the tumor site. Older forms of radiation therapy carry a higher risk of damaging the heart and lungs.
IMRT is one of the most sophisticated forms of radiation therapy. It takes an experienced radiation oncologist and a specialized radiation treatment center to administer it.
A radiation oncologist will explain how often treatments will be given — typically five times a week over a five- or six-week period — and what to expect from the treatment.
Once treatment ends, mesothelioma patients will have follow-up appointments where their radiation oncologist will monitor their recovery and watch for side effects.
If radiation therapy is given after surgery or in conjunction with chemotherapy, radiation oncologists will report how well the treatment is working to a patient’s medical or surgical oncologist.
Radiation Oncologists for Mesothelioma
Some of the nation’s top mesothelioma treatment centers are home to experienced radiation oncologists.
Top Mesothelioma Radiation Oncologists
Training for Radiation Oncologists
In the U.S., radiation oncologists undergo four years of residency after completing a one-year internship.
After completing this residency, radiation oncologists are able to treat adult and pediatric cancer patients. Additional radiation oncology fellowships include image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and brachytherapy.
Specialization of radiation oncologists — such as thoracic radiology — is based on job availability and research interests.
3 Cited Article Sources
Texas Oncology. (n.d.). RADIATION THERAPY FOR MALIGNANT PLEURAL MESOTHELIOMA.
Retrieved from: https://www.texasoncology.com/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma/radiation-therapy-for-malignant-pleural-mesothelioma
Cancer.net. (2016, December). What to Expect When Having Radiation Therapy.
Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/radiation-therapy/what-expect-when-having-radiation-therapy
- Knoll, M. (2015, August 4). Contemporary Clinical Oncology Training in the United States: Is Radiation or Medical Oncology Right for You? Retrieved from: https://connection.asco.org/blogs/contemporary-clinical-oncology-training-united-states-radiation-or-medical-oncology-right-you
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Last Modified May 31, 2019