• Trinity College Dublin

An Introduction to Radiation Oncology: From Diagnosis to Survivorship

Learn about how radiation therapy is used to treat cancer including current treatments and exciting innovations on the horizon.

8,826 enrolled on this course

An Introduction to Radiation Oncology: From Diagnosis to Survivorship
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Understand how radiation therapy is used to treat cancer

Radiation therapy is one of the key treatments for cancer. On this course you will learn from healthcare experts about how it works, the various benefits, and myths surrounding radiation therapy. You will also learn about the treatment pathway if you’re prescribed a course of radiation therapy.

Throughout the course you will find clear, straightforward information on radiation therapy as a cancer treatment. Finally you will look at the exciting new radiation therapy treatments being developed as a system of ‘personalised medicine’.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds The incidence of cancer is rising globally in high, middle, and low-income countries. A cancer diagnosis is a time of great anxiety and fear for patients and their families and carers. There are so many questions that you need answered, and you can be worried about your future and the future of your family. It can be difficult for you to be aware of all cancer treatment options open at this difficult and stressful time. This free online course focuses on radiation oncology, the branch of medicine that uses radiation therapeutically to treat patients for their cancer, either to cure or to ease symptoms. Radiation therapy is the actual treatment delivered to patients by a specialist team of professionals called radiation therapists.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds Working in a multi-disciplinary team, together with radiation oncologists, radiation oncology nurses, medical physicists, and radiobiologists. At some point in the treatment, 50% to 60% of cancer patients should have radiation therapy to best manage their cancer. In this online course from Trinity College Dublin, we will introduce you to the field of radiation therapy and show you why it is a safe and effective treatment for cancer. As a patient, you have the right to make decisions regarding your own treatment, and being aware of the potential of radiation therapy as a cancer treatment will assist you, together with your medical team, in making a decision as to the best possible treatment for your cancer and your care.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 seconds Over the next two weeks, with academics and researchers from Trinity College Dublin, together with national and international colleagues and patient advocates, we invite you to learn about the role of radiation therapy in the management of different cancers, to experience the radiation therapy patient pathway, and hear about the roles of the specialist medical team that work in radiation oncology. You will hear the personal stories of patients who have been cured of their cancer using radiation therapy, and learn that radiation therapy is a safe, effective, and dynamic field of medicine from international experts.

Skip to 2 minutes and 6 seconds This course is for cancer patients, their families, carers, and friends, and for anyone interested in learning about radiation therapy, how it works, and its benefits as a cancer treatment. We invite you to join us at Trinity College, together with colleagues and advocates from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Cancer Organisation, the Irish Cancer Society, and Targeting Cancer to learn about the potential of radiation therapy as a cancer treatment. Together, we will explore the patient pathway and establish that radiation therapy is a safe and effective treatment in the management of many cancers.

What topics will you cover?

In this course you will:

  • Hear stories from patients who have received radiation therapy as part of their treatment.
  • Follow radiation therapy from a patient’s first contact with medical professionals, through to treatment and recovery.
  • Identify myths and facts related to radiation therapy treatment.
  • Discuss the roles of healthcare professionals involved in radiation therapy.

This course is structured into two weeks.

Week 1: Setting the scene for radiation therapy

  • Patient pathway to radiation therapy
  • Myths and facts
  • Who’s who in radiation therapy

Week 2: Science, managing cancers and survivorship.

  • The science behind radiation therapy
  • Treating specific cancers (e.g. head and neck, and prostate cancer)
  • After radiation therapy
  • New developments in radiation therapy treatments

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the role of radiation oncology in managing cancer
  • Identify the steps taken in radiation therapy, from a patient's first contact with medical professionals, through to treatment and recovery.
  • Recognise the roles of the health care professionals involved in radiation therapy
  • Discuss the safe use of radiation therapy in cancer care
  • Explain the basic science behind radiation therapy
  • Describe state of the art radiation therapy, such as personalised medicine
  • Discuss upcoming biological and technological developments in radiation therapy

Who is the course for?

This course is for cancer patients who are likely to undergo radiation therapy as part of their cancer management plan. It will also be of interest for carers, family members and health professionals who may work with cancer patients (for instance physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, dentists, nurses and general practitioner or family doctors).

Who will you learn with?

My name is Michelle Leech and I am Associate Professor, Radiation Therapy at Trinity College Dublin. I have worked in the field of radiation therapy for more than 20 years.

My name is Claire Poole, Assistant professor and Head of Clinical Education, Trinity College Dublin. I am passionate about treating patients and improving patient care.

Who developed the course?

Trinity College Dublin

Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s highest ranked university. It promotes a diverse, interdisciplinary environment to nurture ground-breaking research, innovation, and creativity.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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