The road not taken and choices in radiation oncology

C. Norman Coleman, Eli Glatstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accomplishments and contributions in a career in radiation oncology, and in medicine in general, involve individual choices that impact the direction of a specialty, decisions in patient care, consequences of treatment outcome, and personal satisfaction. Issues in radiation oncology include: the development and implementation of new radiation treatment technology; the use of multimodality and biologically based therapies; the role of nonradiation "energy" technologies, often by other medical specialties, including the need for quality assurance in treatment and data reporting; and the type of evidence, including appropriate study design, analysis, and rigorous long-term follow-up, that is sought before widespread implementation of a new treatment. Personal choices must weigh: the pressure from institutions-practices, departments, universities, and hospitals; the need to serve society and the underserved; the balance between individual reward and a greater mission; and the critical role of personal values and integrity, often requiring difficult and "life-defining" decisions. The impact that each of us makes in a career is perhaps more a result of character than of the specific details enumerated on one's curriculum vitae. The individual tapestry weaved by choosing the more or less traveled paths during a career results in many pathways that would be called success; however, the one path for which there is no good alternative is that of living and acting with integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-337
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Medical ethics
  • Medical technology
  • Personalized medicine
  • Radiation oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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