Radiation Therapy Team

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. It's one of the most common cancer treatments. 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. They will 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.

Treatment goals

The goals can include:

  • Curing cancer

  • Killing cancer cells that remain after surgery or chemotherapy

  • Controlling cancer for a period of time

  • Reducing symptoms of cancer, such as pain

  • Treating cancer that has come back

Treatment plan

Your healthcare provider will evaluate you to make a treatment plan. They will ask you about your health history. You will have a physical exam. You will have some tests. Then your healthcare provider and the radiation therapy team will:

  • Map out the position you'll be in for each treatment.

  • Pick the exact place on your body where the radiation will be given.

The team decides the amount (dose) of radiation to be given and the best way to give it. The team also decides the number of treatments you’ll need.

Team members

Members of your radiation team include: 

  • Radiation oncologist. This is a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer. They lead your radiation treatment and follow-up. This doctor works closely with your other healthcare providers. They watch the progress of the treatment. While you are having treatment, changes can made to make sure the radiation is working. Also, keeping radiation therapy side effects to a minimum is an important goal of your radiation oncologist. Let your team know if you are having any trouble with side effects of therapy.

  • Radiation physicist and dosimetrist. These healthcare providers help with the technical parts of your care. They calculate the exact dose of radiation you’ll get. They also help decide the best shape and angles for the treatment beams.

  • Radiation therapist. This type of specialist works with the radiation oncologist. They put you into position and align the machine. They do this to make sure the beams are aimed right. Then they control the machine that sends the beams to the cancer site. This therapist gives the daily treatments. You can ask them questions you might have. They will be able to answer or refer you to the nurse or doctor to help answer your questions. You will spend the most time with this therapist during your course of treatment.

  • Radiation oncology nurse. This nurse assists the team in your care. They can give you information about your treatment. They also help you manage side effects.

There may be other healthcare providers that are part of your team. These can include: 

  • Social worker

  • Patient navigator

  • Dietitian

  • Dentist

  • Physical therapist

If you have questions or concerns, talk with your team.