Amna joined The Royal Marsden two years ago after completing an undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Radiography at St George's, University of London.
She says: “My degree was very hands-on, so I got to spend lots of time in different hospitals during my training. This gave me experience in various different techniques for delivering radiotherapy.
“First and foremost I wanted to help people, so it’s the patient interaction that most drew me towards therapeutic radiography. Generally we deliver radiotherapy for up to seven weeks, so you really get to know the patients and build up a relationship with them.
“I come from quite a technically-minded family, so I was also interested in that side of treatment. Radiography is a very technology-driven field so it’s really exciting to be at The Royal Marsden, where we’re at the forefront of these advancements. It certainly keeps you on your toes, having to master all the latest techniques.
“Treatment planning and delivery has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, not least because of the evolution in radiotherapy technology. We need to be able to use CT, MRI and ultrasound imaging systems, which all allow us to treat patients with more accuracy than ever before. This ensures the patient’s tumour is treated accurately, at the same time as ensuring the surrounding normal tissues receive the lowest possible dose.
“In Sutton we treat between 30 and 40 patients a day on seven radiotherapy machines. Planning and delivering treatment is a real team effort, requiring lots of different areas of expertise, so we’re constantly talking to nurses, registrars, clinical oncologists and physicists. For instance if a patient is having trouble eating or swallowing, a common symptom of head and neck cancer, we get straight on the phone to their clinical nurse specialist. Or if we’re testing the correct dose of radiation for a patient, we can call on our colleagues in physics for their input.
“In the future I’d really like to get involved in research, and I’m definitely in the right place – The Royal Marsden runs some of the most innovative clinical trials in the world. Our department is also very forward-thinking; we’re constantly looking for ways to make things run more smoothly and effectively."
It’s exciting to work in an environment where everything is moving so quickly, meaning even better treatment and care for our patients.”