Radiation Therapy is the use of high-energy ionizing radiation to treat cancer and some benign diseases. The goal of radiation therapy is to damage the cancer cells’ DNA and destroy its ability to divide and grow, while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.
This may be accomplished using highly sophisticated equipment to deliver external beam radiation or using brachytherapy in which radioactive sources are placed inside the patient on a temporary or permanent basis. Radiation Therapy may be used to cure cancer or to relieve pain and other symptoms associated with cancer.
Radiation Therapists have continual contact with patients throughout the course of their treatment, educating them about treatment, simulation procedures, and potential radiation side effects. Radiation Therapists monitor and observe each patient's clinical progress and provide emotional support. Radiation Therapists are responsible for accurately interpreting, verifying, administering and recording the treatment prescribed by a Radiation Oncologist.
As a member of the cancer management team, Radiation Therapists work closely with Radiation Oncologists, Oncology Nurses, Medical Physicists, Medical Dosimetrists, Social Workers, and Nutritionists, as well as Surgical Oncologists and Medical Oncologists (chemotherapy).
Career opportunities for radiation therapists are excellent, with jobs available in all parts of the country. Radiation therapists can be employed by hospitals, universities, clinics, or vendors who market radiation oncology equipment. Some radiation therapists work in independent or contract temporary positions and travel to facilities throughout the nation.
As the U.S. population grows and an increasing share of it is in older age groups, the number of people needing treatment is expected to increase and spur demand for radiation therapists.
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