3 Min Read
Last Updated: 06/04/2024
Fact Checked

Written by Karen Selby, RN | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Jeffrey Velotta | Edited By Walter Pacheco

Fact Checked

What Is a Medical Dosimetrist?

Medical dosimetrists have special training in radiation treatment machines and related equipment.

They turn the radiation oncologist’s written prescription into a mesothelioma treatment plan. They help determine how much and when the radiation should be delivered to the tumor.

Dosimetrists help figure out the best way to send radiation to a tumor. They work with radiation oncologists and medical physicists to develop these treatment plans.

Typically, a radiation oncologist chooses the type of radiation therapy for treating mesothelioma. However, the dosimetrist understands all of the commonly used radiation treatment options.

What Does a Medical Dosimetrist Do?

One of the most important jobs of the dosimetrist is to determine the distribution of radiation dosages. They aim to get the best tumor control without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.

Healthy tissue that may be negatively affected by radiation is called a dose-limiting structure.

For example, the heart may be a dose-limiting structure when treating the lungs. When treating peritoneal cases, the stomach or intestines may be dose-limiting structures.

The dosimetrist will limit damage to your healthy organs. Radiation to the tumor will meet the goal of slowing or killing the mesothelioma cells.

This way, the dosimetrist plays a critical role in your treatment plan and quality of life after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

They also try to make radiation therapy safer and more effective through clinical trials. A 2021 dosimetry research study showed that a helical tomotherapy-based platform for mesothelioma radiotherapy reduced lung damage.

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What Training Does a Medical Dosimetrist Have?

Some medical dosimetrists begin as radiation therapists. They develop an interest in dosimetry — the processes and methods of measuring radiation doses.

To become a medical dosimetrist, radiation therapists study for one and a half to two years longer. Some radiation therapists choose to get a four-year Bachelor of Science degree.

Training includes attending the clinic and using what you learned in math classes, like algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. They also learn about physics and how to use computers to create 3D images.

After training, the candidates can take the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board exam.

Why See a Medical Dosimetrist?

The radiation oncologist or nurse is more likely to discuss your radiation options with you than the dosimetrist. They can share information on which healthy tissues may be affected by the radiation plan and what side effects to expect.

They can provide support regarding minimizing and managing radiation therapy’s downsides.

How Do I Find a Dosimetrist with Mesothelioma Experience?

In general, dosimetrists do not specialize in mesothelioma or any other disease.

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a radiation therapy team with experience in treating mesothelioma. This kind of team is more likely to include a dosimetrist familiar with the disease.

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