What is radiation oncology and what conditions can it treat?
Radiation oncology is a medical specialty that uses ionising radiation to treat suitable cancers with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissues. It comprises several professionals unique to this specialty: radiation oncologists (doctors), radiation therapists, and medical physicists. Together, we will assist you through your course of “radiation therapy”.
Radiotherapy can be used alone or together with surgery and/or chemotherapy and is generally given on an outpatient basis.
Radiation therapy aims either to cure cancers or to relieve the pain, bleeding, or obstructive symptoms caused by the tumour. It is used for curing patients with early stage cancers of the prostate, uterine cervix, head and neck, lung, brain, and skin. Radiation therapy may also be used to relieve pain, pressure, and bleeding from tumours to improve the patient’s quality of life.
When do you need to see a radiation oncologist?
A radiation oncology consultation is usually made when a patient has been diagnosed with cancer. The referral may be made by a surgeon, gynaecologist, or a medical oncologist. The radiation oncologist would be able to advise you on management options which may involve radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery.
If you are experiencing the following health concerns and suspect that they could be cancer-related, you may wish to consult a physician.
- Change in bowel habits or bladder function
- Skin changes
- Sores or wounds that do not heal
- Thickening or lump in the breast or other parts of the body
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
- White patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue
Why you should consider our radiation oncologists in Singapore
Our radiation oncologists at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre are experienced in managing cancer patients. We use the latest technology to provide radiation treatments best suited for your particular need.
We are mindful that the journey for you and your family will be a challenging and often stressful one, from the time of diagnosis, through active treatment and beyond. We are here to support you and your family along the way.
Radiation therapy is delivered in various forms depending on the cancer type, tumour location, and extent of spread.
The most common form is external beam radiation therapy. A machine known as the linear accelerator generates and delivers sharp-edged beams of ionising radiation to the cancer. The external beam radiation therapy techniques using high energy Xrays (photons) include image-guided radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, and stereotactic body radiation. In addition the machine also allows treatment with high energy electrons.
Implants containing radioactive material may also be placed within the tumour or surrounding body cavities for internal beam radiation therapy, called brachytherapy. We use high-dose rate brachytherapy with temporary internal radiation therapy, where radiation is delivered using a high-activity radioactive source which travels by robotic control to catheters and special applicators, to deliver treatment over very short periods of time, enabling outpatient treatments.
Some of the radiotherapy equipment and techniques that our radiation oncologists use are listed below.
- Computed Tomography (CT) simulators with 4D capability
- Computerized treatment planning systems
- High-dose rate Brachytherapy
- Conventional 2D radiation therapy
- 3D conformal radiation therapy
- Image guided radiotherapy (IGRT)
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
- Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT)
Reviewed by: Dr Khor Tong Hong
Senior Consultant, Radiation Oncology
Mount Elizabeth Oncology Centre
Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre