Radiation oncologist

What they do

Radiation oncologists are medical specialists who use radiation therapy (also known as radiotherapy) to treat and manage cancer in patients.

Radiation oncologists work with and assess patients with cancer and plan the course of best treatment for them. Radiation oncologists may remove the cancer, or where that is not possible, alleviate pain to improve the quality of life of a patient. They determine and prescribe the most suitable dose of radiation using high energy X-rays, electron beams or gamma rays to treat their patient.

Working conditions

Radiation oncologists work for public and private hospitals. They may supervise and teach medical students and trainees. Radiation oncologists may also perform research and conduct clinical trials. They may be required to be on-call in case of an emergency.

Most radiation oncologists in Western Australia work in the Perth metropolitan area. They must wear personal protective equipment and adhere to strict safety requirements when performing procedures with radiation.

Tools and technologies

Radiation oncologists work with radiation therapists and medical physicists to deliver radiation treatment with a radiation machine called a linear accelerator (linac). Radiation oncologists usually use external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) techniques, but may also use intraoperative radiotherapy, total body irradiation, or brachytherapy, where radiation is delivered inside the patient. They may be required to wear lead aprons or thyroid shields if they are performing a procedure near radiation.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a radiation oncologist, you must first become a qualified medical doctor and then specialise in radiation oncology.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To specialise in radiation oncology, doctors must apply to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) to complete the Radiation Oncology Training Program.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as a radiation oncologist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Radiation Practice Board.

You may also need to obtain a Radiation Use Licence from the Radiological Council of Western Australia.

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