A radiation oncologist treats cancer mostly by using high energy, extremely focused X-ray beams, though internal radiation (in the form of prostate brachytherapy seeds or gynecologic implants) may also be used.
Physicians choose to use radiation, chemotherapy or surgery (or a combination) depending on the type of cancer, its stage (that is, how far the disease has spread) and the wellness of the patient.
Radiation is used as treatment for almost all types of cancer though not every patient will meet the criteria where radiation is helpful or warranted. Most radiation oncologists won’t treat all types of cancers but will specialize and only treat certain cancer types. I treat lung cancers, gastrointestinal cancers (esophagus, stomach, colorectal and anal) and lymphomas.
Prior to becoming a radiation oncologist, one has to complete a bachelor’s degree, medical school and then a five-year residency program. I attended medical school at UBC and then went on to start my residency at the University of Toronto and completed my training here in British Columbia. After my residency, I decided to do another year of specialty training (called a fellowship) at Stanford University near San Francisco. There, my research focus was Stereotactic Body Radiation. I will talk about that in a future post.
Besides being a radiation oncologist, I am also the head of the Clinical Trials Unit at the Abbotsford Centre.
I’m honoured to have been asked to participate in this blog because I’m not very savvy in online networking. The closest I’ve ever been to Facebook was when I saw the movie “The Social Network.” As for “tweets”… well, I have bird feeder outside my kitchen window.
It should be an interesting month.