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What’s the Difference Between Radiation and Radiology?

October 17, 2017

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If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you may have heard terms like "radiation" and "radiology" being discussed as part of your treatment plan. Although these words sound very similar, they actually refer to different things. Learning the difference between these terms can help you better understand what to expect when you receive treatment.

What is radiation?

As a general term, radiation can be described as high-energy waves. Scientists have been able to apply these waves to help treat cancer by directing them at a tumor to target and destroy cancer cells. When used as a medical treatment, it is typically called radiation therapy or radiotherapy.

Depending on the patient’s individual condition, radiation therapy may vary in its delivery method, dosage, timing and substance used. These factors are determined by a medical doctor called a radiation oncologist, who specializes in this type of treatment.

What is radiology?

Radiology is a field in which a medical doctor called a radiologist specializes in using medical imaging to help diagnose and treat various conditions. Common imaging techniques used in radiology include:

Radiology can be used to diagnose a wide range of conditions and illnesses, including many types of cancer. For example, one or more imaging scans may be used to confirm a cancer diagnosis or identify the precise location of a tumor to help determine the appropriate treatment.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team includes subspecialized radiologists, radiation oncologists and many other physicians and medical professionals. Our cancer experts collaborate as a tumor board to develop individualized treatment plans, ensuring our patients receive the best possible outcome and quality of life.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer and would like to learn about your treatment options at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form to schedule an appointment. We diagnose and treat all types of cancer at Moffitt and do not require a referral for an initial consultation.