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Patient Care and Research

Radiation Oncologist Scope of Practice

The ASTRO Board of Directors developed an affirmative statement detailing the scope of practice for radiation oncologists that includes the work up of patients with suspected cancer diagnoses.  This statement also emphasizes the role of the radiation oncologist as the leader of the oncology team.

Radiation oncologists are expert in the evaluation of patients with suspected or known cancer from the initial assessment of their signs and symptoms onward. They can perform a complete oncologic workup and can coordinate a patient’s cancer care with other physicians.

Radiation oncologists collaborate with multidisciplinary oncology teams that include specialists in surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiology, nuclear medicine, pathology, and other disciplines. Finally, radiation oncologists follow patients after they complete radiation treatment to monitor for recurrences, treat ongoing symptoms and address complications.

Radiation oncologists are the only physicians with the expertise and training to deliver radiation therapy. A radiation oncologist can also address possible side effects from treatment and offer guidance and solutions. To become board-certified, candidates complete five years of specialized training after medical school and then pass an examination by the American Board of Radiology.