What do physicists and dosimetrists do?

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Question from Janet: What do physicists and dosimetrists have to do with radiation? What is a dosimetrist?
Answers - Lydia Komarnicky, M.D. Physicists and dosimetrists are critical to any radiation therapy department. They make sure the equipment is functioning correctly, that the dose delivery is correct, the charts are checked on a regular basis, and the quality of the radiation beam is intact. They are responsible for the quality of the radiation equipment and the correct functioning of that portion of the department.

Dosimetrists help the physician actually work out the radiation treatment plan--the 3-dimensional treatment plan—and help us to determine the angles of the beam. A good dosimetrist is hard to find and keep, but they're worth their weight in gold.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. Keep in mind that radiation is a physical phenomenon that is controlled in a predictable way using all kinds of parameters. The physics and dosimetry staff are experts in how to best utilize radiation together with the doctor, who understands more about the disease itself and how to control the disease.
Lydia Komarnicky, M.D. So it really is a team approach of not just the radiation oncologist, but also the physicist and the dosimetrist.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Radiation Therapy Updates featured Lydia T. Komarnicky, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about advances in radiation therapy: the newest and best techniques, combining radiation therapy with other treatments, ways to manage, reduce or eliminate side effects, and more.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2004.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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