Radiation oncologists primarily treat patients with tumour diseases. Radiation is an important part of the overall treatment concept for many oncological diseases. Solid tumours, leukemia and lymphoma in adults and children can all be treated by radiation therapy.
Some tumours, e.g. skin tumours or prostate carcinoma, can be brought into complete remission solely by radiation therapy.
Additional irradiation after a surgical procedure (adjuvant radiation) can reduce the risk of recurrence, i.e. the re-appearance of a tumour: Radiation is part of the standard treatment following a breast conserving surgery a the breast carcinoma. But even for brain, lung, ENT or gynecological tumours post-surgical radiation is often indicated.
With some diseases, e.g. rectum carcinoma, irradiation is carried out before surgery to reduce the size of the tumour (neoadjuvant irradiation).
Following previous chemotherapy, e.g. with lung carcinoma or lymphoma, additional (consolidating) irradiation might be required.
For some tumour types, radiation is combined with chemotherapy to improve the results (radio-chemotherapy), e.g. with rectum, oesophagus, or bronchial carcinoma, or ENT-Tumours.
But even if there is no prospect for a cure, palliative radiation often reduces complaints and improves quality of life, e.g. of painful skeletal metastases, or prevents neurological problems of spinal or brain metastases.
Modern radiation therapy is carried out according to specific guidelines and recognised treatment concepts and in consideration of the individual characteristics of each patient.
CT-supported radiation plan for radiation after a breast-conserving surgery of a breast carcinoma.
Even benign diseases can be positively influenced by radiation therapy: Complaints or pain from degenerative alterations (arthrosis) or inflammatory diseases (arthritis, tendinitis) can be reduced. Functional restrictions by excessive tissue formation, e.g. with Morbus Dupuytren, can be avoided. Sometimes it is sensible to use radiation immediately before surgery (e.g. hip surgery/TEP) to avoid abnormal bone formation in muscular tissue or after a surgery to avoid excessive scarring (keloids).
Generally, the required radiation dose is much lower for treating benign diseases and treatment duration is shorter.
Radiation therapy of a benign disease is indicated if other treatment possibilities prove to be ineffective or have more side effects.