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Volume 25, Number 2, 2020

Radiation oncology should be a partner to medical oncology in end-of-life care

Shearwood McClelland III, Timur Mitin


The end-of-life management of cancer patients has traditionally been managed almost exclusively by Medical Oncology; however, Radiation Oncology has begun to take a more active role in the past decade. A recent study examining the Medical Oncology perspective on the role of Radiation Oncologists in end-of-life care provides an interesting perspective on this issue.1 Unfortunately, previously reported stereotypes of Radiation Oncology interest in patients post-treatment persist in this analysis, including the questionable narrative that Radiation Oncologists subject terminally ill patients to unnecessary treatments.1, 2, 3 While lacking the systemic therapy knowledge of our Medical Oncology colleagues, Radiation Oncologists have unique expertise in diagnostic imaging and clinical evaluation of symptoms associated with anatomically-based lesions. Furthermore, as a procedure-based specialty, Radiation Oncologists share with our Surgical Oncology colleagues the responsibility accompanying the short and long-term consequences of our therapeutic interventions; such responsibility goes far beyond being mere technicians. In centers with multidisciplinary tumor boards/clinics where Radiation Oncology, Surgical Oncology, and Medical Oncology work collaboratively to optimize patient care, the role of the Radiation Oncologist as a clinician in the first place and as a deliverer of radiation therapy (RT) in the second place becomes obvious.

Signature: Rep Pract Oncol Radiother, 2020; 25(2) : 155-156

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