Oncology - Radiation

Haere mai, welcome

Radiation Oncology is an exciting and constantly evolving area of medicine, using radiation therapy to treat cancer curatively and for the relief of symptoms.

Radiation Oncology is part of the Canterbury Regional Cancer and Haematology Service (CRCHS). We provide radiation oncology services to patients from the Canterbury, West Coast and Nelson/ Marlborough regions.

Why specialise in Radiation Oncology?

Radiation Oncology is a discipline which treats a wide range of cancers with radiation either for cure or for palliation / symptom control.
The field of cancer medicine is changing rapidly and the expanding research knowledge is increasingly being reflected in new treatments.

Check out the targeting cancer information here

Radiation Oncology is a demanding but rewarding specialty and requires a special focus on patients and their families/whanau as they are guided along their cancer journey.
Radiation Oncology is suited to trainees with an interest in the humanistic aspects of medicine and requires strong communication skills and an empathetic approach.
It is a career which offers oncologists the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology to deliver treatment with high response rates for many patients. 

Further information is available at the following here.

Radiation Oncologists are one part of a multi-disciplinary team. We are fortunate to work with a great team comprised of radiation therapists (who deliver the treatment), physicists, nurses and allied health.

Our service is mainly outpatient-based, therefore shift work as a consultant is unusual and the inpatient and on-call commitments are not onerous.
We work closely with all hospital specialities. Thus you can tailor a career reflecting your interests, including procedural work.

Radiation Oncologists participate in Hospital, South Island and National committees and boards, as well as international committees.

Career prospects

Radiation Oncology is an area of medicine that is predicted to grow in the years ahead and as such, there will be a need for more specialists in this area.
Ministry of Health modelling predicts significant shortages of radiation oncologists in the future and thus there will be ample job opportunities.

Medical kaimahi (staff) in Oncology

Currently, there are ten Medical Oncologists, ten Radiation Oncologists, eight Radiation Oncology Registrars, six Medical Oncology Registrars and two Relief Registrars who cover outpatient and inpatient care.

There are three House Officers who cover Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology inpatients.
Palliative Care is closely aligned with Oncology and is staffed by 2 Palliative Care Physicians, a nurse practitioner, one registrar and clinical nurse specialists.

All about our service

The Oncology Service, Christchurch Hospital, incorporates the disciplines of Medical and Radiation Oncology. It is a busy unit and we offer a full range of outpatient and inpatient services for the non-surgical management of cancer.

The service incorporates a multidisciplinary team approach with close liaisons with diagnostic and support services and nursing, medical and surgical colleagues.

There is close liaison with the Department of Haematology which provides a full range of services including high dose chemotherapy and autologous and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

Visiting Radiation Oncology outpatient consultation services are provided to Greymouth, Nelson and Blenheim Hospitals.
Registrars working in Radiation Oncology will have opportunities to work in outpatients, the inpatient ward and in the radiation planning and treatment areas.

Training in Oncology

CRCHS is accredited to train up to 8 Radiation Oncology Registrars.

Protected formal teaching time is provided weekly and registrars are encouraged to attend this session, other teaching opportunities offered in the department as well as regular tumour specific multidisciplinary meetings.

The radiation oncology specialist training is via the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR). It is a 5-year training programme based entirely in radiation oncology. Part of the training programme involves a rotation to another New Zealand Radiation Oncology centre.

RMO’s in their PG3 year are eligible for application to the training programme.

For more information please see the RANZCR website. 


An interest in research when training in Radiation Oncology is essential and the service in Christchurch is actively involved in clinical trials.
A training registrar is required to complete a supervised research project during their training period, most of which are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

SMO / Kaimahi (staff) support

The Radiation Oncologists pride themselves on their approachability and welcome opportunities to use all clinical situations as teaching opportunities. There is 24 hour SMO on-call availability.

Advantages to training in Radiation Oncology, Canterbury District Health Board

With ten Radiation Oncologists employed with a vast range of experience, sub-specialty interests and other skills, the Christchurch Radiation Oncology service provides an excellent training opportunity.

Members of our radiation oncology teams are actively involved in all levels of training, have a strong commitment to teaching and are represented on RANZCR college training and examining boards.


Dr Melissa James
Clinical Director, Radiation Oncology
Phone: (+64 3) 364 0753
Email: melissa.james@cdhb.health.nz

Dr Phoebe Chidley
Director of Training Radiation Oncology
Phone: (+64 3) 364 0753
Email: phoebe.chidley@cdhb.health.nz

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