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What Is Dosimetry?

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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2014
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Dosimetry is a medical science used to determine the optimal amount of medication to be given to those undergoing treatment for cancer. A number of variables are taken into account, with the end goal of prescribing the least amount of radiation or chemotherapy that will have the greatest benefit. An individual who has his or her degree in the field is called a dosimetrist.

There is often a dosimetrist on an oncology team at cancer treatment facilities. While another medical professional will typically prescribe the type of treatment, the individual with experience in dosimetry is responsible for determining the amount of radiation or chemotherapy to deliver to the patient. These types of cancer treatments kill not only cancer cells but healthy cells as well; administering the correct amount of treatment will help minimize side effects as well as the death of healthy tissue.

In addition to determining the amount of medication to be administered, an individual experienced in the field of dosimetry is often called upon for other associated tasks. These include setting up the therapy, developing casts to immobilize the patient, and ensuring that radiation is delivered to the correct area of the body. He or she is usually also involved with scheduling therapies.

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There are many different areas that can overlap with dosimetry. Mathematical skills are of the utmost importance, as the field involves numerous calculations in order to determine the correct treatment dose. It also requires individuals to be able to work in three dimensions without seeing the tumor or cells being treated. Dosimetry is well within the realm of the medical field, and an individual pursuing a career should be well versed in medical terminology, treatments, and medications,, and knowledgeable about the dangers of radiation.

In some cases, dosimetry is not as straightforward as simply administering a treatment. A number of considerations come into play when developing a treatment plan. A tumor may be in the vicinity of another, healthy organ, and this can require a change in the delivery system. As this is a common occurrence, research is another vital component of dosimetry. Dosimetrists are the individuals that are most familiar with the delivery system of cancer treatments, and they can be of invaluable assistance when new treatments are being developed.

An important part of dosimetry is working with the patient. Like many healthcare professionals, the dosimetrist often works in close contact with his or her patient. Communication skills are important when dealing with a patient already in a stressful situation, and the dosimetrist needs to be comfortable with the processes he or she is overseeing as well as explaining them to a patient.

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