Radiotherapy physics

Radiotherapy is the treatment of cancer with high energy radiation, such as x-rays.

In this area of healthcare science, you’ll be responsible for the precision and accuracy of radiotherapy treatment.

Working life

Patients with various forms of cancer will receive radiotherapy treatment. They’ll often undergo this treatment every day for a number of weeks, so it’s vital to ensure that the treatment is delivered safely and accurately.

Working in radiotherapy physics, you’ll be responsible for the precision and accuracy of treatments by using advanced computer calculations to develop individual patient treatment plans.

Planning starts with images of the cancer to be treated usually taken on a CT or MRI scanner, outlining the target volume. You’d then be planning the treatment beams to be used to treat the tumour, making sure that the radiation dose to surrounding tissue is minimised.

You’ll also be responsible for ensuring that equipment used in radiotherapy is calibrated precisely and used safely, and that the imaging equipment used during treatment allows the radiotherapy team to update the treatment plan during a course of treatment.

'Radiotherapy is a careful balancing act; on the one hand cancer cells must be bombarded with enough radiation to kill them, but on the other, we must avoid damaging any of the normal cells either that surround the cancer or through which the radiation beams must travel to reach the tumour' - Dr Chris Golby, radiotherapy physicist

Read Chris' story

Who will I work with?

You'll work as part of a team that includes therapeutic radiographers, clinical oncologists, clinical radiologists, nurses and other healthcare science staff working in physical sciences and biomedical engineering.

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