Qualified medical physicists work directly with the radiation oncologist during treatment planning and delivery. They oversee the work of the dosimetrist and help ensure that complex treatments are properly tailored for each patient. Medical physicists are responsible for developing and directing quality control programs for equipment and procedures. Their responsibility also includes making sure the equipment works properly by taking precise measurements of the radiation beam and performing other safety tests on a regular basis.
Dosimetrists carefully calculate the dose of radiation to make sure the tumor gets enough radiation. Using computers, they work to develop a number of treatment plans that can best destroy the tumor while sparing normal tissue. Since treatment plans are often very complex, dosimetrists work with the radiation oncologist and the medical physicist to choose the treatment plan that is right for you.
Many dosimetrists start as radiation therapists and then, with very intensive training, become dosimetrists. Others are graduates of one- to two-year dosimetry programs. They are certified by the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board.
Radiation Oncology Nurses
Radiation oncology nurses work together with radiation oncologists and radiation therapists to care for you and your family during your radiation treatments. They will explain the possible side effects you may experience and describe how you can manage them. They will assess how you are doing throughout treatment and will help you cope with the changes you may experience. They will also provide support and counseling to you and your family.
Radiation oncology nurses are licensed registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. Many registered nurses in radiation therapy have additional accreditation in the specialty of oncology nursing. Advanced practice nurses, including clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, have completed a master's degree program.
Radiation therapists work with radiation oncologists to administer the daily radiation treatment under the doctor's prescription and supervision. They maintain daily records and regularly check the treatment machines to make sure they are working properly.
Radiation therapists go through a two- to four-year educational program following high school or college. They take a special examination and may be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. In addition, many states require radiation therapists to be licensed.
Patient in the Department of Radiation Oncology have the opportunity to meet with a social worker who is trained to assist the patient and family in dealing with non-medical problems and concerns related to illness, hospitalization, and disability.
The social worker's priority is to identify and provide services that maintain a continuity of quality care for the patient from the hospital to the home. If transportation, equipment, home care services, and/or long-term care are needed for the patient, the social worker will assist in identifying the appropriate resources and help to arrange for these services. They are familiar with community resources of possible benefit to their patients.
In areas of financial concerns, the social workers help to clarify insurance coverage and to identify sources of financial aid. The social worker is knowledgeable regarding services that offer supplementary financial assistance and will assist patients and families by making referrals for appropriate benefits.
Social workers can help patients deal with the anxieties and fears related to their illness. They provide supportive counseling services to all patients and families in individual, family, and group sessions. They can also link the patient and family to community agencies that provide these services.
Social worker services can be obtained by the patient and family at any time during the patient's treatment and follow-up.
To speak with a social worker, please call (212) 305-2991.
Together with a Registered Dietitian (RD), you will set nutrition goals to improve your health.
People with cancer often need to follow diets that are different from what they think of as healthy and may need to eat to keep up their strength to deal with the side effects of treatment. For example, you may need extra protein and calories. However, if your appetite has decreased or you have trouble chewing and swallowing, this might be a challenge. In addition, in order to mange certain side effects you may need to eat low-fiber foods instead of those with high fiber. Our dietitian here at the radiation clinic can help you with any diet changes you may need to make in an individual basis or you may also receive general information by attending our monthly nutrition classes held on the first Wednesday of the month.
Talk with your doctor or nurse if you are not sure what to eat during cancer treatment. Ask him or her to refer you to a dietitian. A dietitian is the best person to talk with about your diet. Our dietitian can provide tips on ways to:
- get the most from foods and beverages
- take special care with food to avoid infections, and
- provide assistance to caregivers to facilitate them in their efforts of caring for their loved one’s meals and/or diet
Medical Nutrition Therapy provided by our Registered Dietitian includes:
- a review of what you eat and your eating habits
- thorough review of your nutritional health, and
- a personalized nutrition treatment plan
The first visit with a Registered Dietitian will take approximately an hour. After your first session, the RD will schedule follow-up appointments to check on your progress and see if changes are needed in your nutrition goals and treatment plan
For further assistance, call one of our Patient Financial Advisors at (212) 305-2991. Appointments are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
1. “Medical Nutrition Therapy Services” from eatright.org
2. “Eating Hints Before, During, and After Cancer Treatment” from the National Cancer Institute