A Radiation Oncologist is a medical specialist doctor with training in the use of radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) to cure or reduce the symptoms of cancer, and in the overall care of cancer patients. They are ultimately responsible for assessing individual patients, determining the best management plan, overseeing treatment and assessing progress. Radiation Oncologists may order tests and images, prescribe medications, and consult with other doctors involved with cancer treatment. Radiation Oncologists work closely with Radiation Therapists and Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists to ensure that the treatment is safe and accurate. After treatment, ongoing follow-up by the Radiation Oncologist is common, in helping to assess the patient’s response to treatment and manage any further developments in the care of the patient. The Radiation Oncologist will meet regularly with patients and their carers to discuss what is involved before, during and after treatment.
Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists
Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists (ROMPs) assess and monitor the safety of patients and staff involved in the delivery of radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy). They work with IT and engineering staff to ensure all radiation therapy equipment and computers are in perfect working order and that they meet international and national standards.
Like all members of the radiation oncology team, ROMPs conduct regular quality checks on the equipment to ensure that the highest quality, accurate radiation therapy is delivered. They oversee safety, assist Radiation Oncologists and Radiation Therapists with the planning of treatments, and are also responsible for ensuring that the equipment is correctly set up and calibrated when it is first installed.
It is unlikely that a patient will meet the ROMP during the course of treatment, but their work is essential to ensuring that radiation therapy is safe and accurate.
Becoming a Radiation Therapist
A Radiation Therapist calculates the radiation plan and operates the equipment used to deliver the overall treatment plan set out by the Radiation Oncologist. They use advanced technology and imaging to ensure minimal damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumour.
Radiation Therapists look after much of the day-to-day practicalities of treatment, so patients undergoing radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) become very familiar with their team of radiation therapists.
Radiation Therapists are also able to answer any questions or concerns that patients have about their cancer or treatment, or direct them to the appropriate health care professional.
Radiation Oncology Nurses
Any form of cancer treatment can have a physical and emotional toll on the patient, and Radiation Oncology Nurses are there to support a patient and their carers throughout treatment and beyond.
This might include assessing the person’s overall health status, helping patients and family members navigate through complex medical systems, educating patients about their treatment, assisting with symptom management and acting as a patient advocate.
Radiation Oncology Nurses have a good overall understanding of general health, cancer medicine and radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy).
They will be able to answer many questions and provide physical and psychological support before, during and after the treatment process.