Cancer Care Terms
A highly trained, board-certified and licensed physician who uses radiation in its various forms for patient care. He or she prescribes how much radiation is received, plans how treatment will be given, follows the patients closely during their course of treatment, and prescribes care that may be needed to help with side effects. These specialists work closely with other doctors, nurses, and health care providers on the team. After patients are finished with radiation therapy, the radiation oncologist sees them for follow-up visits. During these visits, the doctor will check for late side effects and assess how well the radiation has worked.
A board-certified medical professional who reviews all aspects of treatment to assure a high-quality and safe treatment delivery. These experts work with all members of the team to develop and implement the care plan. Most of the time, their work is done behind the scenes during the planning of treatment. For special procedures, the medical physicist may work closely with patients during the course of their treatment.
A board-certified medical professional who uses critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create the plans to be used for treatment. Dosimetrists work with the physicians and physicists to help develop a customized treatment plan for the individual. They also monitor the progress of treatment to make sure it meets the requirements of the planned prescription. They may be called upon to assist in treatment at various times.
Provides nursing care during radiation therapy, working with all members of the radiation therapy team. These nurses talk with patients about radiation treatment and help manage side effects.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
A registered nurse with a master’s degree and advanced clinical practice in oncology nursing who specializes in the care of cancer patients. These specialists serve in several different roles depending on the setting. They may give direct patient or family care; supervise staff’s care of patients and families; do nursing research related to cancer patients; or teach patients, families and staff about cancer, treatment and side effects.
Works with patients during each radiation therapy session, positions patients for treatment and ensures patients get the dose of radiation prescribed by the radiation oncologist.
Other Health Care Providers
The team may also include a dietitian, physical therapist, social worker and others.
The patient is the most important part of the radiation therapy team. His or her role is to:
- arrive on time for all radiation therapy sessions
- ask questions and talk about concerns
- let someone on the radiation therapy team know if they are experiencing side effects
- tell the doctor or nurse about any pain
- follow the advice of doctors and nurses about at-home care, such as maintaining skin care, drinking liquids, eating recommended foods and keeping weight stable.