In most hospitals, a team of the following specialists will be involved in planning and giving your radiotherapy.
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A team of specialists are responsible for planning your treatment. They are called your multidisciplinary team (MDT).
The following people may be involved in planning and giving you your radiotherapy treatment:
You may also meet other specialists from the MDT depending on your individual needs. Such as dietitians, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, social workers, symptom control teams, counsellors and physiotherapists.
This is a doctor who is trained in the use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. They’re responsible for prescribing and supervising your course of treatment. You may see your clinical oncologist before, during and after your course of radiotherapy so that the effect of your treatment can be monitored. If you have any problems between these appointments, the radiographers or nurses can arrange an extra appointment for you.
If you’re having chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy, you may also see a medical oncologist. They are doctors who specialise in chemotherapy and other treatments that use medicines.
Therapeutic radiographers are trained in giving radiotherapy. They have an important role in your treatment and will:
You will get to know a team of radiographers throughout your course of treatment. You can discuss any concerns or anxieties about your treatment with them.
If you prefer to be treated by a radiographer of the same sex as you, ask the radiographer when you go to your planning appointment. Most centres will try to accommodate this, although it may mean a slight delay each time you go for treatment.
Some radiotherapy departments have specialist radiographers who you will see during and near the end of your radiotherapy treatment. They provide advice and care in a clinic room, away from the busy treatment room.
Some hospitals have specialist radiographers who are experts in treating specific types of cancer or working with particular groups of patients, such as children. If you have a specialist radiographer, they will be involved in all stages of your radiotherapy treatment. This includes planning, giving radiotherapy and providing support.
Some hospitals have information and support radiographers. They are experts in providing you and your family with practical and emotional support.
Some radiotherapy departments have radiotherapy assistants. They help the radiographers give you your treatment. They can also provide information and support.
A radiologist is a specialist doctor who interprets scans. They will review your scans with your clinical oncologist. This helps your clinical oncologist plan your treatment.
A physicist is a radiation expert who works closely with your clinical oncologist to plan your treatment. They work out the amount of radiation you need and the best way of giving it.
The physicist is also responsible for carrying out regular checks on the radiotherapy equipment. You may not meet the physicist, as they usually work behind the scenes.
Some radiotherapy clinics have nurses who give information about the treatment and its side effects. They may also give advice on skin care and medicines to manage side effects.
Many cancer centres have specialist cancer nurses, sometimes called clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), who have expert knowledge about your type of cancer. They can also be a good source of support and information during your treatment.
Usually, one of the radiographers or nurses who look after you will be named as your key worker. This is the person to contact if you need more information or support. If you’re not sure who your key worker is, ask someone at your next appointment.
Other health professionals who may be involved in your care include:
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. This treatment aims to treat cancer or relieve symptoms.
There are things you can do to help manage the possible side effects of radiotherapy treatment.
Prepare for your radiotherapy by finding out what treatment involves and how it may affect your everyday routine.
Radiographers will work with you to plan your radiotherapy treatment.
During radiotherapy to the head and neck a mask is used to help you keep still so that exactly the right area is treated.
Radiotherapy treatment is given in a hospital’s radiotherapy department
It can take time to recover from radiotherapy. Support is there if you have any problems.
Preparing questions to ask your health professionals can help you understand your treatment better.
Order booklets or audio CDs about radiotherapy, how it works, having treatment and how it might affect you.
All types of treatment can have different side effects. Know what to expect to help you find the best way for you to handle them.
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Read Lynne's post about working in radiotherapy. She talks about the benefits of visiting the department before treatment, following dietary advice and listening to healthcare professionals.
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