In hospitals and cancer clinics, radiation therapists are key members of the cancer treatment team. More than half of all cancer patients receive radiation treatments, which may be given in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
Radiation therapists use focused beams of radiation to destroy tumours, while minimizing harm to healthy tissues. Alternatively, treatment may involve placing radioactive sources directly into the patient’s body.
To destroy cancerous tissue, radiation therapy involves exposure to higher doses of radiation than are required for diagnostic imaging. It is therefore vital that the radiation be precisely targeted and the dose to the patient be carefully monitored.
The radiation therapist plays another important role: counselling patients on possible side effects from treatment and providing advice on how to minimize them.
As part of their professional duty, radiation therapists:
- EXPLAIN procedures
- COMFORT patients
- ANSWER questions as fully as possible
- PLAN radiation treatments
- POSITION the patient and equipment correctly
- ENSURE proper radiation handling and protection techniques are followed
- ADMINISTER radiation treatments
- MONITOR patients during procedures
- PROVIDE emotional support
- CONTRIBUTE to patient education