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Radiation Oncologist vs. Radiologist

October 23, 2017

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If you’re wondering what the difference is between a radiation oncologist and a radiologist, you’re not alone. Along with having similar-sounding names, both are highly specialized doctors and both are involved in developing a patient’s cancer treatment plan. So, how exactly do they differ? Let us help you understand their unique roles in diagnosing and treating a patient with cancer.

What does a radiation oncologist do?

First, the word “oncologist” is used to describe a physician that specializes in treating cancer. A radiation oncologist works alongside surgical oncologists and medical oncologists to determine if and how radiation oncology fits into a patient’s treatment plan. The radiation oncologist determines the delivery method and dosage of radiation therapy to be provided to a patient.

What does a radiologist do?

A radiologist specializes in using medical imaging techniques to diagnose and treat different conditions, including cancer. In fact, almost all cancer cases require a radiologist to perform an imaging procedure for the initial diagnosis, whether it be a computer tomography (CT) scan, X-ray, ultrasound, mammogram, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or another form of medical imaging. When diagnosing a suspected cancer, a radiologist is responsible for:

  • Determining the most appropriate imaging technique to use
  • Examining medical images and interpreting the results to provide a diagnosis
  • Working with other physicians to help recommend a treatment plan

In addition to interpreting diagnostic imaging, an interventional radiologist specializes in performing minimally invasive techniques using medical imaging to guide the treatment.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s multispecialty team includes many different medical experts who are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive cancer treatment and supportive care, from the initial diagnosis to rehabilitation following treatment. We recognize that each patient’s condition is unique, which is why we take an individualized approach to treatment. Our radiologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, medical oncologists and other physicians collaborate as a tumor board to ensure patients receive the best possible treatment and care.

If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer and would like a second opinion, or if you are experiencing symptoms that may indicate cancer, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. No referral is necessary to schedule an appointment.