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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.

As part of their professional duty, radiation therapists:

  • EXPLAIN procedures and COMFORT patients.
  • ANSWER questions as fully as possible.
  • 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 and CONTRIBUTE to patient education.

Therapists are also involved in the treatment planning aspects of cancer therapy involving radiation, following the prescription of a physician specializing in cancer treatment (radiation oncologist). Additional responsibilities include:

  • performing treatment simulations
  • taking measurements
  • constructing and fitting accessory devices
  • determining radiation doses

In order 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 patient’s exposure carefully monitored.

The therapist plays another important role: counseling patients on possible side effects from treatment and providing advice on how to minimize them. Because the course of radiation treatment often takes several weeks, a special supportive relationship usually develops between the therapist and the patient and family members.

This information was provided through permission from the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists.

For more information Reference: http://www.camrt.ca/mrt-profession/