Clinical Specialist Radiation Therapist, BSc(Hons) Therapeutic Radiography,
PGc APRT, IIRRT Council member
Senior Radiographer, Wexford General Hospital, IIRRT Council member
Radiographers and radiation therapists are at the heart of technological innovations of cancer diagnosis, staging, treatment and post treatment care.
At every stage of the cancer journey, patients interact with diagnostic radiographers and radiation therapists. This includes X-ray, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound, nuclear medicine or in cancer treatment in the form of radiation therapy.
The importance of imaging
Innovations in care have allowed for early diagnosis of cancer across the multitude of imaging platforms, from low dose CT scanning for lung cancer screening, or digital mammography and its enhanced cancer detection rates. Imaging is the eyes of cancer care and careful planning and execution of scans by radiographers provides the best diagnostic result with the least amount of exposure to ionising radiation.
Radiographers play a pivotal role in the delivery of efficient, compassionate and lifesaving care to all those on their cancer journey. Latest updates include clinical 3Tesla MRI scanners, photon counting CT and contrast enhanced ultrasound, further aiding in both the structural and functional information provided to the patient’s team.
The role of radiation therapists
Radiation therapists (RTTs) are centrally placed in the delivery of cancer care. RTTs are highly educated and skilled cancer experts who are fully integral to the delivery of radiation treatment to people diagnosed with cancer They are involved in the education of patients at the beginning of their radiation therapy journey.
RTTs prepare the patients for planning and treatment. They are present daily during treatment which can range from one treatment to six weeks. RTTs are uniquely positioned to encompass emotional wellbeing, provide holistic support and referrals to other health professionals as required as responsibilities of their professional role.
Radiographers play a pivotal role in the delivery of efficient, compassionate and lifesaving care to all those on their cancer journey.
Adapting practices for patient benefit
Aside from supportive care, RTTs are integral to the accurate preparation, planning and treatment with autonomy but within a complex multidisciplinary team (MDT). Innovations in cancer treatment mean RTTs continuously upskill by adapting practices for the benefits of the cancer patients. New innovations include MRI linear accelerators, SABR (stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy), DIBH (deep inspiration breath hold) for left sided breast cancers and HDR for prostate and gynaecological malignancies.