Radiation Therapists

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Radiation therapists are responsible for accurately planning and administering the radiation treatment for cancer patients, using radiation treatment units. They have expert knowledge in care of the patient and anatomy, as well as radiation physics and radiation protection for the safe operation of the equipment. The radiation therapist counsels patients on possible side effects from treatment and provides advice on how to minimize and manage them. Because the course of radiation treatment often takes several weeks, a special supportive relationship usually develops between the therapist and the patient and family members.

Radiation Therapists are key members of the cancer treatment team. They control the machines that are using high energy radiation to destroy cancer tumours. They do this while also protecting the healthy surrounding tissue as much as possible. Sometimes, the radioactive sources are put directly into the patient’s body. This targets the tumour from inside. Radiation Therapists deliver the radiation treatment with high energy linear accelerators and computer treatment verification systems.

Radiation Therapists are also responsible for all the technical planning of a patient’s treatment. They follow a prescription from the oncologist (cancer specialist) and the medical physicist (specialist in physics and medicine) and make and fit devices and aids that help patients receive their treatment. They calculate the radiation doses, focus on the target volumes using simulators and CT scanners, make dose-related calculations, and deliver the treatment.

The Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists (ACMDTT) has adopted the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists’ (CAMRT) competency profiles for the medical radiation technology specialties that it regulates. Previous competency profiles for these specialties have been rescinded. The ACMDTT acknowledges that CAMRT’s profiles reflect current practice in Alberta.