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Jobs in Radiology

Radiation Oncology: Job Description and Salary

Many of us have had to deal with different forms of cancer, whether personally or in the life of a family member, loved one, or friend.

In the medical field, research and scientific studies continue to be carried out in an attempt to increase our understanding of the various types of cancer, as well as improve our ability to combat its effects.

Radiation oncology is one of the treatment techniques used today to eradicate specific cancers in the body.

The Job of Radiation Oncologists

Radiation oncologists’ duties will include the analysis and confirmation of cancer-related diagnoses from a physician or diagnostic radiologist. They are part of the process of determining the results of an imaging examination performed on a patient.

Radiation oncologists also must figure out the best treatment or therapy to recommend to a patient with cancer. This treatment will attempt to eradicate the cancerous cells in the patient’s body, but maintain the healthy state of the other cells around the cancerous area.

Using advanced imaging techniques and three-dimensional equipment, radiation oncologists determine where cancerous tumors and cells are located, and then map out a treatment strategy that will minimize the risks of radiation.

Radiation Treatment Strategies

One example of radiation treatments is stereotactic radiosurgery, a minimally invasive procedure that locates specific areas of the body through high-powered X-rays. This technique then performs actions such as lesions, biopsies, injections, implantation, and other procedures.

Radiation therapy can also be combined with chemotherapy, another form of treatment which uses chemical agents to eliminate cancer in the body.

Radiation oncologists have the serious responsibility of discussing with the patient the extent of the cancer in his or her body, and then going over treatment plans and strategies that will have to be undertaken, as well as how much drugs or radiation the patient will have to undergo.

Radiation Oncology: Job Description and Salary - BecomeaRadiologist.org

It is a must for radiation oncologists to have very strong communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to calmly and clearly discuss medical conditions and treatments with patients, provide motivation and leadership, share encouragement, and give emotional support.

Training to Become a Radiation Oncologist

Training to become a radiation oncologist starts with a bachelor’s degree in a medical or science-related field of study.

Applying to medical school is the next step, which is another four years, followed by a 12-month internship and four years of resident training. Residency is particularly important because students will learn and master both clinical and radiation oncology.

In the United States, radiation oncologists seek certification from the American Board of Radiology, and are licensed after passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

Expected Salary

As with most careers related to radiology, the average salary for a radiation oncologist is generally higher compared to other peers in the medical field due to the demand for medical professionals who are skilled in the different areas of radiology. In 2010, the average annual salary for a radiation oncologist stood at $151,000.

Employment opportunities are also abundant, with a 22 percent increase between 2002-2018 projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the population ages and requires radiation treatments.

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Types of Radiology

Radiology 101: Types of Radiology

Radiology is a large branch of medical science, and within radiology there are also specializations and subcategories that deal with specific diagnoses, treatments, and analysis of various areas of the human body.

As you decide which specialization within radiology to pursue as your career path, you should also know the different subcategories within radiology in order to differentiate them and make a clear, informed choice of what you would like to do.

Choosing Your Expertise

Radiology 101: Types of Radiology - BecomeaRadiologist.org

During your first few years in medical school, you would have a more detailed understanding of the human body in general, which would also give you a better idea of what to expect later on.

While training to become a radiologist would usually entail learning about radiology’s various branches as a whole (much like any other medical science), radiology practitioners would train for one or more of these specific branches or areas of study for their practice:

  • Breast Imaging. This area of radiology deals specifically with the imaging and diagnosis of various breast diseases or conditions. Procedures that fall under breast imaging include:

Mammography – a process that uses low-level X-rays to diagnose and screen the breast area. A mammography is used to detect breast cancer and analysis of treatment strategy.

Breast MRI – A contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast area is used as a more detailed alternative to a mammography.

  • Cardiovascular Radiology. This subcategory refers to testing and diagnosis of the heart and blood vessels, checking for various diseases and conditions that usually show up in these areas ( arteries, veins, lymphatics, etc.). X-ray tests, CT or CAT scans, ultrasound tests, or MRI scans area usually utilized in cardiovascular radiology.

  • Chest Radiology. For the diagnotic imaging and diagnosis of different diseases of the heart, lungs, and other organs in the chest area, chest radiology is the specialization. This category of radiology also utilizes procedures such as lung biopsy and chest fluid drainage.

  • Emergency Radiology. This branch of radiology refers to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of trauma and non-traumatic emergency situations.

  • Gastrointestinal Radiology. Gastrointestinal or GI radiology deals with the gastrointestinal or digestive tract and the abdomen. Diagnosis and treatment procedures under GI radiology include:

Flouroscopy – This is the real-time use of X-rays to view images inside the patient’s body using a fluoroscope.

Fluid and Abscess Drainage – Radiation can be used to drain excess fluid or abscess build-up in the patient’s gastrointestinal or digestive tract.

  • Genitourinary Radiology. This specialization within radiology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions that occur in the reproductive and urinary tracts. Digital imaging techniques used in genitourinary radiology include x-ray, MRI, CT or CAT scans, and MRIs, while treatment procedures usually include kidney stone removal, uterine fibroid removal, or biopsy.

  • Head and Neck Radiology. Head and neck diseases are diagnosed and treated using a variety of techniques specific to head and neck radiology.

  • Musculoskeletal Radiology. The diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of medical conditions of the body’s muscles and the skeleton is referred to as musculoskeletal radiology.

  • Neuroradiology. A more detailed and intricate diagnostic imaging and treatment procedure for the head, neck and spine, as well as the brain and the nervous system, is referred to as neuroradiology. CT or CAT scans, MRI, and ultrasound are the usual imaging techniques used here.

  • Nuclear Radiology. This category of radiology diagnoses and treats patients that have been exposed to or have trace doses of radioactive compounds. For imaging, techniques such as gamma imaging, PET, and PET/CT are used. Nuclear radiology encompasses imaging of the heart, skeletal system, liver, spleen, lungs, kidney, thyroid or parathyroid glands, and most other areas and organs of the body.

  • Pediatric Radiology. This branch of radiology is geared specifically towards the diagnostic imaging and treatment of children’s diseases.

  • Radiation Oncology. This is the category of radiology that seeks to treat various forms of cancer in the body. Radiation therapy is delivered to the body through an outside X-ray source or injected to the area of the body. Because this area of radiology is more advanced, it is also among the highest-paying and in-demand types of radiology.