Radiotherapy, which constitutes major therapeutic modality with surgery and chemotherapy, is carried out at Department of Radiation Oncology. Radiation used for radiotherapy has very high energy. Because of its high energy, radiation can penetrate deep into the body and cause tumor cell kill through DNA damage. Although adjacent normal tissue can also be damaged, normal tissues are readily repaired, while repair for tumor tissue is insufficient. This is the one of the basic principle of fractionation in radiotherapy. Not only cancer, the malignant tumor but also benign tumor and other benign conditions are treated with radiotherapy. Some of the benign diseases treated with radiotherapy include pterygium, keloid, and heterotopic ossification. Radiation oncology can be further divided into three specialties, which are clinical radiation oncology, radiation physics, and radiobiology.
Treatment technique of radiotherapy can be divided into two categories; external beam radiotherapy, also called teletherapy and brachytherapy. Most frequently used treatment facility for external beam radiotherapy is linear accelerator, often called linac. External beam radiotherapy can be further divided into, 2 dimensional or conventional radiotherapy, 3 dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D CRT), stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT), intensity modulated radiotherapy (IGRT), and image guided radiotherapy (IGRT). Brachytherapy can be further divided into intracavitary brachytherapy, intraluminal brachytherapy, interstitial brachytherapy, and contact therapy.
In most cases, radiotherapy can be carried out in out-patient basis. Aim of radiotherapy include definitive treatment, where radiotherapy plays key role in the treatment of the certain disease, adjuvant treatment, where radiotherapy helps other treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy, to not only improve treatment result but also improve quality of life after the treatment by conserving body status and organ function. For those patients where definitive treatment is not an option, palliative radiotherapy can improve survival and improve life quality.
Department of Radiation Oncology at Seoul National University Hospital makes every effort to improve the cancer cure rate and to improve the quality of life through basic oncologic and clinical research. The education of medical personnel is provided through lectures and clinical and practical courses for medical students, dosimetrists, radiotherapy technologists, medical physicists, and clinical fellows.