Meet Your Radiation Oncology Team:
Members of your radiation oncology team work with you to prevent a recurrence or shrink an existing breast tumor
. Your team members coordinate your dose and care while you are having breast radiation treatments. They can help you understand what treatments are about, tell you how to deal with side effects, and ensure your safety.
A radiation oncologist will help you decide on a treatment method
and the dosage of radiation that you need to fight your cancer. This doctor will explain your options, and will set up your radiation treatment sessions.
Your medical dosimetrist uses your radiation prescription to plan the dose of energy that you will have during treatment sessions. This person may also monitor and verify your dose with special equipment
, to ensure against an overdose.
The medical physicist tests and calibrates the radiation machines to verify that they are functioning safely. This doctor checks your treatment plan to make sure it is accurate.
A radiation therapist works with your team to locate your target tissue, and helps simulate your treatment, to make sure the equipment is set up properly. Your therapist may help you get into position on the treatment couch, and then operate the linear accelerator
that is used to deliver the radiation. You can ask your therapist questions about treatment and request advice about self-care. They will keep a record of your treatments so that your oncologist and dosimetrist will stay current on your progress.
Some clinics require patients to maintain their positions during treatment with the use of a mold or removable cast. This helps ensure treatment accuracy, so that you and the radiation machine are aligned in the same positions for each treatment. The molding technicians create these devices for each patient.
Radiation Therapy Nurses:
Your radiation nurses may work with your therapist to position you before treatments, and may also provide some patient education. If you need help managing or preventing side effects, your nurse is a good person to ask.
Many clinics and hospitals have a social worker who can help you and your family members with emotional needs during treatment. Social workers have experience in counseling, and can direct you to additional support services for physical, emotional, and financial needs.
Hospitals and clinics can be intimidating and confusing for some of us, so patient navigators help us work within the health care system. They might help you make decisions, understand insurance, set up transportation and home health care, as well as connect you to additional local resources. A good patient navigator breaks down barriers and opens doors to quality care for medically underserved patients, with the hope that all cancer patients will receive effective treatment.
Dosimetrist, Dictionary of Cancer Terms. National Cancer Institute.
Patient Navigator. Cancer Disparities Research Partnership Program, National Cancer Institute.