"My profession is not very well known yet. As a Physician Assistant (PA), you take over delineated tasks from a medical specialist. I supervise and treat lung cancer patients who are receiving radiotherapy; other PAs supervise patients with breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example. In 2007, I started as one of the first PAs in the Netherlands in the radiotherapy department. I enjoy connecting the clinical work with research. Now I am the first PA within radiotherapy to obtain a PhD. My research focused on improving the radiation treatment for patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The standard treatment in this stage of disease is concurrent chemoradiotherapy, often followed by immunotherapy. Many patients experience severe swallowing problems due to inflammation of the esophagus caused by the radiation treatment. Sometimes even tube feeding is required. In one of the studies we improved the model with which you can predict these swallowing problems, so that we can better prepare and guide people."
Margriet will defend her thesis on May 18.