Radiation Oncology

Looking for a radiation oncologist in San Diego?

Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups has a comprehensive list of physicians specializing in radiation oncology. Radiation oncologists are physician specialists with training and experience in the treatment of cancer. myQcare lists Radiation Oncologists who work with other San Diego-based oncologists to design personalized radiation therapy for each patient. Some of the newer radiation therapy treatments include proton therapy, electron bean therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).

Many cancer patients that are undergoing cancer treatments will also have some form of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation with the goal of shrinking tumors and killing cancer cells. Radiation therapy is typically performed in one of three ways: 1) outside of the body using a machine, called external-beam radiation therapy; 2) in the body by placing radioactive material near cancer cells, called internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy; or 3) in the body by placing radioactive substances such as radioactive iodine in the blood stream, called systematic radiation therapy.

How does radiation therapy kill cancer cells? Radiation therapy attacks cancer cells by damaging or changing their DNA, which may prevent or decrease a cancer cell’s ability to divide (grow). One potential drawback of radiation therapy is that it does not only kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can, and most of the time does, also damage normal cells. Radiation oncologists take this into account when planning a treatment of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is oftentimes used in conjunction with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, in order to achieve the most effective results.

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Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is an innovative form of external-beam therapy that is delivered by protons. Proton beams are thought to cause less damage to surrounding healthy tissues. In theory, this would mean that higher doses can be used to combat cancerous tumors.

San Diego has one of only 15 operating proton therapy treatment centers in the United States. Learn more about cancer treatment and proton therapy at Scripps.

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Short-term Side Effects

Acute, or short-term side effects occur during radiation therapy treatment. Side effects depend on the area of the body being treated, the dosage, and other treatments used.

Common short-term side effects may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss (when head is treated)
  • Nausea (especially when the abdomen is treated)
  • Skin irritation at therapy site
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Long-term Side Effects

Late side effects may or may not occur from radiation therapy. Patient experiences will vary depending on individual risk factors and other aspects of their cancer treatment.

Depending on the area of the body that received radiation, side effects may include:

  • Damage to the bowels
  • Infertility
  • Fibrosis
  • Memory loss
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Doctors who can help


Damon E. Smith, MD

Radiation Oncology


Tahir Ijaz, MD

Radiation Oncology


Reza Shirazi, MD

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Donald B. Fuller, MD

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Francisco S. Pardo, MD

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