Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. This therapy can help you in your fight against cancer. Your radiation therapy team will work with you during your treatment. The team will help you set goals and make a treatment plan. Then they will carry out the treatment. Ask questions when you don’t understand what is happening. And let your team know how you’re doing.
These can include:
Killing cancer cells that remain after surgery, chemotherapy, or both
Controlling cancer for a period of time
Reducing symptoms of cancer, such as pain
Your healthcare provider will evaluate you to make a treatment plan. You will be asked about your health history. You will be examined. Tests may be performed. Then your healthcare provider and the radiation therapy team can pick the exact treatment site. The team decides the amount of radiation to be given and the best way to give it. The team also decides the number of treatments you’ll need.
Members of your radiation team include the following:
Radiation oncologist. This is a healthcare provider who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer. He or she leads your radiation treatment and follow-up, working closely with your other healthcare providers.
Radiation physicist and dosimetrist. These people assist with the technical aspects of your care. They calculate the exact dose of radiation you’ll receive. They also help decide the best shape and angles for the treatment beams.
Radiation therapist. This person works closely with the radiation oncologist. He or she puts you into position and aligns the machine to make sure the radiation is aimed correctly. Then he or she operates the machine that sends the radiation to the cancer site.
Radiation oncology nurse. This nurse answers your questions and gives you information about your treatment. He or she also helps you manage side effects.
Other healthcare professionals might be part of your team during your treatment as well, such as social workers, patient navigators, dietitians/nutritionists, dentists, and physical therapists.