What is a Radiotherapist?

radiation therapisttherapeutic radiographer, or radiotherapist is an allied health professional who works in the field of radiation oncology. Radiation therapists plan and administer radiation treatments to cancer patients in most Western countries.

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Roles & Responsibilities

Radiation therapists use advanced computer systems to operate sophisticated radiation therapy equipment, such as linear accelerators. The therapist works closely with the radiation oncologists, medical physicists, and other members of the health care team. They effectively design and treat the course of radiation treatment, in addition to managing the patient’s well-being.

Radiation therapists primarily treat cancer,, although other disorders and conditions can be managed through the care of radiation therapists. After the radiation oncologist has consulted with the patient and a decision has been reached that the application of radiation will benefit the patient, it then becomes the radiation therapist’s responsibility to interpret the prescription and develop a treatment plan for treatment delivery.

The process of producing the final plan rests with a group of specialized radiation therapists called dosimetrists.

Since the course of radiation therapy can extend over several weeks, the radiation therapist is responsible for monitoring the condition of the patient and is required to assess if changes to the treatment plan are required. 

This is accomplished through patient re-positioning, dose calculations, or other specialized methods to compensate for the changes. The therapist is responsible for quality assurance of the radiation treatment. This involves acquiring and recording all parameters needed to deliver the treatment accurately. The therapist ensures that the treatment set-up is correctly administered. The therapist takes imaging studies of the targeted treatment area and reproduces the patient positioning and plan parameters daily.

The therapist is responsible for the accuracy of the treatment and uses his/her judgment to ensure quality concerning all aspects of treatment delivery. During radiation treatment, the patient will most likely develop certain side effects. In such situations, the therapists will communicate these side effects with the radiation oncologist, who may adjust treatment or give medications.

Facts about Radiotherapy

  • Radiation treats cancerous tumors using high-energy ionizing radiation produced by the Medical Linear Accelerator.
  •  A radiotherapy Oncologist is a doctor who applies radiotherapy.
  •  Radiotherapy is performed five days a week. It is not carried out on Saturdays or Sundays. Each session lasts for a few minutes and your presence in the Radiotherapy department lasts about half an hour in total. You have a fixed appointment.
  • Firstly, you will have a CT simulation—a special, easy, and without contrast agents—CT scan in the area of ​​the body that is to receive radiation. In these images, the doctor will mark the exact location of the cancerous tumor as well as the healthy organs to be protected.
  •  Then, the treatment is designed. A lot of work is done for you before you join for your first session!
  •  The therapeutic unit of radiotherapy is GREY, the international unit for radiation absorption from the mass. 180 to 200 cGy is a daily dosage and 6,000 to 7,000 cGy is a typical total therapeutic dose. So radiotherapy is a treatment that is built daily and little or nothing. So, read a book and be patient!
  •  During your short radiotherapy session, you do not feel anything, you may be alone in the treatment room, but your radiologic technologists and doctor are constantly monitoring you. The machine rotates around you, always at a distance from you, you can hear the mechanical changes in the directional elements, the protective diaphragms, and the dose rate change if you are subjected to vast radiation, but you should concentrate on the beautiful music that is there for you.
  • Modern radiation therapy has minimal side effects because it is precisely targeted and because it is delivered by sophisticated, high-technology machines.
  •  Patients that undergo radiotherapy continue their professional lives and social activities. Encouragement by the radiotherapist, support by the nursing staff of a modern radiotherapy department together with the minimization of the obvious side effects of radiation, such as redness, burning or hair loss, contribute to the very good psychology of our patients.
  •  You DO NOT radiate to the environment. While irradiation ceases, its anticancer action continues invisibly and silently. So embrace your baby without fear!
  •  Radiation therapy is applied to many tumors and multiple patients. Do not be affected by what you hear and see in the waiting room. Remember that everyone is also a special case.
  • The biological effect of radiotherapy lasts for several weeks after its completion. Your doctor will ask you to return after 6 to 8 weeks to evaluate the complete therapeutic effect. We understand your impatience, but do not rush to do that MRI or measure prostate antigen (PSA).
  • Radiotherapy has the ability to rescue noble organs that suffer from cancer. Some are the larynx, the esophagus, the prostate, the bladder, the tongue, and even the breast.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Radiation Therapists

1. What is a radiation therapist?

A radiation therapist is a healthcare professional who works with cancer patients to deliver radiation treatments [1]. They’re part of a radiation oncology team that also includes radiation oncologists (doctors) and medical physicists [2].

2. What does a radiation therapist do?

  • Uses advanced computer systems to operate radiation therapy machines like linear accelerators [2].
  • Plans and delivers radiation treatments based on the prescription from the radiation oncologist [3].
  • Monitors patients throughout treatment and adjusts the plan as needed [4].
  • Ensures the quality and accuracy of radiation treatment delivery [5].
  • Communicates patient side effects to the radiation oncologist [6].

3. What are some facts about radiotherapy treatments?

  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to treat cancer [7].
  • Treatments typically occur 5 days a week for a few minutes per session [8].
  • A CT scan is used for treatment planning to precisely target the cancerous tumor [9].
  • The dose of radiation is measured in gray (Gy) [10].
  • Modern radiation therapy machines minimize side effects [11].
  • Many patients can continue their daily routines during radiation treatment [12].
  • The effects of radiation therapy may take weeks to be fully realized [13].

4. What are some additional things to know about radiation therapy?

  • You won’t feel anything during the treatment session [12].
  • You likely won’t be alone during treatment, although you may not see the staff directly [12].
  • Radiation therapy is a targeted treatment, and you won’t radiate the environment [14].

5. Is radiation therapy right for everyone?

This FAQ is intended to provide general information. It’s important to talk to your doctor to see if radiation therapy is the right treatment for you [15].

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