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The Current Landscape of Radiation Oncology

August 12, 2019

Joseph “Chip” Hodges, M.D., of Texas Oncology–Longview Cancer Center shares his perspective on the current landscape of radiation oncology and future innovations.

How would you describe radiation oncology to a newly diagnosed patient?

Radiation is a type of cancer treatment that treats a focal or localized area of the body to eradicate cancer cells. Our team of radiation oncologists, physicists, therapists, and medical specialists, called dosimetrists, calculate precise dosages of radiation therapy to ensure a patient’s treatment is safely and precisely tailored to their tumor.

Is radiation designed for specific cancer types?

Radiation is used in a broad range of cancer types with the most common being breast, prostate, and lung cancer. However, virtually every area of the body and every type of cancer has a potential indication to benefit from radiation therapy.

How has radiation therapy changed over your career, and how has it transformed cancer treatment overall?

I went to medical school to become an oncologist – I just didn’t know which type. After seeing the advancements in radiation therapy with the ability to target and treat cancer with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, the field of radiation oncology became my calling. Radiation therapy continues to evolve by improving control rates in many types of cancers while allowing for decreased side effects.

What innovative breakthroughs can patients expect to see in the field of radiation oncology in the coming years?

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a non-invasive treatment that can ablate cancer in the body with similar success rates as surgery. It has proven beneficial in many cancer types and stages. Even patients whose cancer has spread we can use SBRT to “spot treat” the areas of spread and ultimately improve their outcome.

Gone are the days we have to always tell patients with stage IV cancer that they have less than six months to live. We can now routinely offer improvements in quality of life and life expectancy to patients with the use of SBRT and immunotherapy. This is an exciting area of cancer care that continues to evolve at a very rapid pace.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.