Radiation oncology is a distinct specialty from diagnostic radiology with a separate residency training program and certification exam (administered by the American Board of Radiology). Whereas in radiology, ionizing radiation is administered to diagnose disease and to guide therapeutic interventions, in radiation oncology, ionizing radiation is delivered as a therapeutic intervention itself. Multimodality imaging, including respiratory-gated CT and fusion with diagnostic MRI and PET scans, is used to guide treatment planning and delivery of conformal radiotherapy individualized to each patient’s anatomy. While radiation is most commonly used in an attempt to cure or palliate cancer, it can also be used to treat non-malignant conditions including prevention of heterotopic bone formation after orthopedic procedures. Key concepts/topics in radiation oncology, which are worth reading more about if interested, include dose fractionation, organ sensitivity/toxicity, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy, and brachytherapy.
The radiation oncology observation takes place on L2 at Radiation Oncology Simulator 3. Take the Amory elevators (see BWH Pike or BWH L1 maps) down to L2, turn left at the first corridor just prior to the Radiation Oncology Waiting Room, and you will find Simulator 3 on the left.