When someone is diagnosed with cancer, one of the common treatment options involves radiation. The types of radiation treatment used change with improvements in technology and advances in medicine. Radiation oncologists are doctors who lead the way in this field, treating patients while also seeking better therapeutic methods.
To become a radiation oncologist, you must first attend four years of medical school and serve a one year internship. After this, you need to be accepted into a radiation oncology residency. Most of these residencies last four years, although a few are five years long. After completing the residency, doctors must be certified, which includes a written and oral exam.
Clinical work involves developing a comprehensive plan for treating individual cancer patients. A radiation oncologist's work will include quite a bit of face-to-face time with his patients. Some oncologists choose to specialize in hospice medicine, which involves even closer work with patients as they approach the end of their lives. Radiation oncologists stay informed on the new technology so they can give their patients the latest treatments with the best survival chances.
Radiation oncologists can choose to devote their careers to the research side of treatment rather than the patient care side. This involves developing and running clinical trials that test new treatment options, taking part in laboratory research, and performing quality assurance testing of new treatments. Areas such as stem cell treatment, low-dose radiation, targeted treatments and repairing DNA are among the fields a radiation oncologist can research.
The career of a radiation oncologist can be difficult because of the stresses of dealing with life-threatening illnesses every day. However, this type of doctor's lifestyle is less hectic in many ways than other physician specialties. A radiation oncologist can expect mostly regular hours with most weekends free.