Delivering radiation therapy: what’s involved

Sophie Fessl

The job of a radiation therapist involves many tasks, each of which have to be done right to ensure the patient gets the greatest benefit with the least risk.

Data transfer

Transferring beam arrangement and dose data from treatment plan to treatment machine

  • Wrong information concerning treatment/dose/location/field size/beam energy
  • Wrong monitor units

Checking treatment plans

Simulation, imaging and volume determination

Determining region of the body to be treated using typically a dedicated CT scanner for virtual simulation

Positioning and immobilisation

Setting up the patient in a reproducible position for accurate daily treatment

  • Incorrect patient positioning
  • Incorrect immobilisation position
  • Wrongly applied immobilisation device

Patient setup

Placing patient in treatment position for each treatment

  • Incorrect patient identification
  • Inappropriate alignment with external reference system (e.g. lasers)
  • Incorrect application of shifts from reference points to isocentre

Treatment delivery

Physical delivery of radiation dose

  • Incorrect radiation dose (overdose or underdose)
  • Incorrect beam energy
  • Incorrect field size and orientation
  • Undetected equipment failure

Treatment verification

Confirmation of treatment delivery using image guided radiation therapy (IGRT); monitoring of the daily setup; monitoring of side effects by regular patient review and support.

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  1. Their fingers on the button: why neglecting radiation therapists is no longer an option - Cancerworld

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