Your Radiation Care Team

Author: Courtney Misher, MPH, BS R.T.(T)
Last Reviewed: November 16, 2023

Clinical and Technical Team

Many people make up your radiation care team. Your first visit will likely be with a radiation oncologist. If you end up having treatment, you will meet more providers during future visits. Some team members focus more on the treatment delivery, and you may not meet those members.

  • Radiation Oncologists – physicians with specialized training in the use of radiation therapy to treat cancer and other diseases; they are in charge of your care. While on treatment, most radiation oncologists will see you once a week. If they are not available, you will likely see another provider.
  • Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA) – in some centers, NPs and PAs work with the radiation oncologist to provide care.
  • Nurses – assist the radiation oncologist in providing clinical care. They will provide information on skincare, nutrition, personal care, symptom management, medications, and home care.
  • Social Workers – may lead support groups and are available to meet with you and your family to discuss any personal concerns you may have.
  • Registered Dietitians – provide diet and nutrition therapy, offer nutrition suggestions based on your type of cancer, medical history, and personal preferences.
  • Radiation Therapists – deliver your daily radiation treatment created by the radiation oncologist. They will position you so that the radiation is given correctly. You will see them every day for treatment.
  • Dosimetrists – work with your radiation oncologist to make your treatment plan. They calculate the precise dose and course of treatment with the goal of killing the cancer while limiting side effects. You may never meet this care team member.
  • Physicists – maintain the radiation equipment, monitor the procedures used to deliver your treatment, and make sure your treatment is given correctly. You may never meet this care team member.
  • Treatment schedulers – arrange your appointments and will help you make any changes to your schedule. You will see and talk to this care team member a lot.

Your radiation treatment center may have other people involved in your care as well. The entire team is there to support you.

Consultation Visit

During your first visit, the radiation oncologist will review your medical history and do a physical exam. The physician will explain the role of radiation therapy for you and what you can expect during treatment. Any questions you or your loved ones have will be answered. This is often a time for the nurse to connect with the patient and their family.

Simulation or “Sim” Visit

Simulation is the process of mapping the treatment area. X-rays will be taken on a CT scanner designed for treatment planning. Treatment devices used to help you lie still and comfortably on the table will be made at this time. Your skin or the treatment devices will be marked with marker or ink dots (sometimes called tattoos) that will serve as a guide for your radiation treatments. More tests may be needed to make sure the radiation will affect cancer cells but limit the effects on normal tissue. This appointment usually lasts 45-60 minutes.

Set-Up Visit or "Dry Run"

Your set-up visit usually takes place in the treatment room where you will get your treatment. The radiation therapists will take x-rays or cone-beam CTs of the treatment areas to make sure that you are positioned correctly, making any changes needed. They will also check that the treatment to be delivered exactly matches the plan made by the radiation oncologist. Your first treatment will take place on the same day or the following day.

While it seems like a lot of time to plan and set up, the treatment must be given as it was planned to avoid side effects caused by radiation to healthy tissue and to get the correct amount of radiation to the treatment area.

Daily Visits

Once the initial set-up is done, daily treatments normally follow. Treatments are often given once a day, Monday through Friday, for a number of weeks. Each treatment takes about 15 to 30 minutes, allowing time to set up equipment and get you in the correct position. However, you should plan to be there for an hour each day.

Treatments are often given each day, but some treatments are done using another schedule. These include treatment twice a day or a short course of radiation, which could be a single treatment or many treatments. This article describes external beam radiation therapy. To learn about other types of radiation, visit OncoLink.


External beam radiation: Types of external radiation therapy. External Beam Radiation | Types of External Radiation Therapy | American Cancer Society. (2023, February 13).

What to expect when having radiation therapy. Cancer.Net. (2022b, June).


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