Paving the Way

The American Institute for Radiologic Pathology (AIRP™) unveils its new radiation oncology course.

Note: click on image above to enlarge.

Beginning in February, residents will be able to attend the new radiation oncology offering at AIRP™, a four-day categorical course that will present a comprehensive view of imaging with emphasis on principles of radiologic-pathologic correlation.

Albert L. Blumberg, MD, FACR, former ACR president, Seth A. Rosenthal, MD, FACR, chair of the Commission on Radiation Oncology, and Bryan Barriger, MD, one of the program directors at AIRP, discuss the content of the course and why it’s just as important for practicing radiation oncologists as it is for residents.

Where did the idea come from to create a course like this?

Blumberg: I had been aware of how robust the courses at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) were and how fondly my diagnostic radiologist colleagues looked back on them. When AFIP became AIRP, I began to question if this could be beneficial to the radiation oncology community as well. So one summer, I audited one of the courses and realized how helpful it was, even to someone who had been in practice as long as I had. And I realized then that we had an opportunity to do something really unique.

“Understanding of pathology is central to the practice of radiation oncology, so it makes sense that we marry the two.”

-Seth A. Rosenthal, MD, FACR 

Could you tell us a little about the course?

Rosenthal: The ACR has been very fortunate to have the AIRP. The institute is a nationally known resource for clinicians regarding the pathologic correlates of diseases. Understanding of pathology is central to the practice of radiation oncology, so it makes sense that we marry the two. Together with the AIRP, the ACR Commission on Radiation Oncology brought a group of expert radiation oncologists and pathologists together to create a course that’s going to have a lot of great information focused on the needs of radiation oncologists.

Barriger: This course builds on everything that residents enjoy about AIRP courses. Our aim is to educate radiation oncologists on the pathologic appearance of common oncologic processes.

What should residents look forward to?

Rosenthal: This course has a lot of concentrated exposure to the material. Radiation oncology residents typically get bits and pieces of exposure to pathology, often while attending tumor boards, but it’s only a small part of their experience. At AIRP, they will be able to get dedicated exposure to pathology and a chance to interact with the pathologists on the faculty. The course will give them a better understanding of how the pathology correlates with the diseases we treat.

Barriger: We’ve spent a lot of time evaluating the course material so that it is tailored to radiation oncology residents. For example, we’ve specifically developed new lectures within the genitourinary module to go over prostate and pelvic MRI procedures commonly used in radiation oncology.

Why is it important that residents attend the course?

Blumberg: First of all, it’s built on the model of a program that’s been successful for decades — the AFIP. Second, there’s a definite need for this course in the radiation oncology community because there’s really nothing like it right now. Radiation oncology residents have a pathology requirement in their training just as radiologists do, but the vast majority of radiation oncology residency programs rely on residents attending multidisciplinary tumor boards. They get a couple of slides and a discussion, but there’s nowhere near the attention or focus they need to look at the correlation that occurs between looking at a radiologic abnormality and pathologic normality.

Rosenthal: Understanding the pathologic correlates of disease is an integral part of a radiation oncologist’s practice. This course is going to have expert radiation oncologists and pathologists working together to address pathologic topics of special interest to radiation oncologists. This will provide residents and practicing physicians with in-depth exposure to pathologic processes underlying the diseases we treat, as well as the response of normal tissues to radiation.

Barriger: Radiation oncologists should first be general oncologists. We need to have a basic understanding of the other oncologic subspecialties for a well-rounded education. And having radiologic-pathologic correlation is a critical part of oncology training. Becoming as educated and up-to-date as possible is paramount to providing quality patient care.

Is this course only for residents?

Blumberg: Although this course was created with residents in mind, I think it’s just as valuable for practicing physicians. The course I audited at AIRP was extremely helpful to me. I think that this course, which is geared specifically to radiation oncologists, will be even more helpful, particularly to practicing physicians who are looking to understand better what they are looking at.

Looking to attend the course or get more information? Visit The first course will be held February 2–5, 2015, so register soon!

Image 1: Intramedullary chondrosarcoma (grade 2);
Image 2: Pontine glioma; 
Image 3: Cystic fibrosis;
Image 4: Mixed capillary venous hemangioma of the retroperitoneum.


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