Radiation therapy is a complex process requiring hours of testing and reworking in order to find the perfect dosage and treatment plan for every individual. To this end, no two treatments are the same even for individuals with the same type of cancer.
A radiation therapy care team consists of a group of highly-trained experts. The team works together to find the best treatment plan for every patient and cross-checks throughout treatment to reduce the chance of human error. Because the team consists of experts in many fields, patients receive the best quality support and care possible.
A radiation oncologist is the head of a radiation team. This specialist is trained in radiation for therapeutic use, and consults with patients to identify whether radiation therapy is right for them. The radiation oncologist can also determine if other therapies need to be used in tandem with radiation therapy, such as surgery or chemotherapy.
The radiation oncologist will also be in charge of developing individual treatment plans for patients, as well as discussing the risks and benefits of treatment with the patient and their family.
A radiation physicist is a specialist in physical science and is trained in the medical application of radiation. This specialist tests and sets the alignment of machines as well as the radiation output. It is their responsibility to double-check doses and monitor machines.
A radiation therapist is the technician who administers radiation treatments to patients. They will run simulations with the patient prior to the main treatment. They also perform safety checks on treatment equipment in order to make sure everything is in top condition.
A dosimetrist is a specialist who calculates doses of radiation. They help plan treatments by determining the optimal amount of radiation that needs to be delivered. This amount needs to be enough to kill the cancer while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
The radiation oncology nurse is a nurse who is specially trained in radiation therapy. The radiation oncology nurse will perform a patient’s initial evaluation. They will also be the point of contact for follow ups, managing side effects, and answering questions or concerns about treatment.
You are an integral part of the radiation therapy team. Only you know how you feel. By conveying any discomfort or side effects that you may experience, your doctor can make adjustments to the treatment plan.
Taking care of your health while you are at home will also help speed along your recovery. This includes taking medications as prescribed, eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and coming to every appointment.
After treatment, it’s important for you to update your doctor about how you feel in follow-up appointments so that additional adjustments can be made as needed.
By working together, the radiation team and you can achieve a successful treatment program.
Every patient has different needs, and other specialists on a radiation team will reflect the individual’s unique care plan. Listed below are additional specialists that may be a part of the radiation therapy team.
You may not have an appetite or find it difficult to eat depending on the type of cancer you have. A nutritionist or dietician can help ensure that you are receiving sufficient amounts of healthy, nutritious food to give your body the fuel it needs for your recovery.
Everyone responds to cancer differently – some people can continue activity as normal while others need a lot of rest. Some people are used to an active lifestyle, and a physical therapist can help you gradually return to your normal activities by guiding you through setting and achieving goals. A physical therapist can also assist with functional training, strengthening, relaxation techniques, and fatigue-combating techniques.
A counselor can be helpful for many patients since they help the patient and family adjust to the diagnosis. They provide a listening ear, relationship and coping support, and may offer solution-focused advice.
A social worker attends to a patient’s personal needs. This includes listening, finding information, and arranging community resources such as support groups.
An oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique challenges of cancer, and provides spiritual and emotional care for patients and their families. They may offer guidance in the search for meaning during illness, helping in the treatment decision making process, and coping with end-of-life issues.
The office staff is your first point of contact when you make appointments. They are also responsible for maintaining records, communicating with pharmacies, communicating with insurance companies, and billing. They can also provide information about directions, any pre-treatment instructions, and other office procedures. If you have a question, the office staff will be glad to help you find an answer.