Study reveals gaps in availability of radiotherapy services across Europe

January 23, 2013, Lancet

Most strikingly, the study finds that in several countries in western Europe there are too few radiotherapy machines to ensure that cancer patients in need of radiotherapy receive treatment. For instance, in Italy around 16% of need is unmet, in Portugal 19%, Austria 20%, and the UK and Germany 21%. However, the authors caution that these apparent gaps in treatment supply may be compensated by more efficient organisation of radiotherapy provision.

Led by Eduardo Rosenblatt from the in Austria, the researchers analysed data from the Directory of Radiotherapy Centres (DIRAC) database, a global registry of radiotherapy facilities, to compare the need for radiotherapy equipment with existing supply based on the number of inhabitants and in 33 .

Availability of radiotherapy services varies widely between countries and regions within Europe. , Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are well-equipped with radiotherapy machines to meet the demand for treatment, whilst most countries in eastern and southeastern Europe are insufficiently equipped and have the greatest need to expand and modernise their equipment.

On average, the study found that countries have 5.3 teletherapy (the most common form of radiotherapy) machines per million people, but the number ranged from fewer than two per million in Macedonia and to more than eight per million in Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, and Sweden. Overall, ten countries were found to have an insufficient number of machines to meet estimated need.

The findings suggest that fragmentation of radiotherapy services exists in 28 of the 33 countries studied, with Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Slovenia having a more centralised set-up, operating a high number (between four and ten) of machines in each centre.

"The fragmentation in radiotherapy services that prevails in many European countries might affect the of radiotherapy and its quality", say the authors, whilst emphasising that although their results do not prove whether differences in equipment and organisation have an effect on cancer outcome, they do warrant further investigation into how to optimise the efficiency of radiotherapy services.

Across Europe, cancer is on the rise. Currently, 3.2 million Europeans are diagnosed with cancer every year, with roughly half of those requiring radiotherapy at some point.

"Despite being more cost-effective than surgery and chemotherapy for treating cancer, the building and running of a radiotherapy centre requires substantial financial and technical investment, so countries need to plan ahead" , explains Rosenblatt.

"Our data should enable governments, European Union bodies, and international organisations to see at a glance how adequate the provision of radiotherapy is in each European country. For the first time, it gives countries the ability to plan investment objectively and ensure the building and maintenance of sufficient capacity to meet the ever-increasing demand", he adds.

Explore further: Treatment of rectal cancer varies enormously between different European countries

More information: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (12)70556-9/abstract

Related Stories

Treatment of rectal cancer varies enormously between different European countries

September 24, 2011
Stockholm, Sweden: First results from an international comparison of the care of patients with rectal cancer have shown there are substantial differences in the use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy between European countries.

Despite hype, costly prostate cancer treatment offers little relief from side effects

December 13, 2012
Prostate cancer patients receiving the costly treatment known as proton radiotherapy experienced minimal relief from side effects such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction, compared to patients undergoing a standard radiation ...

Fewer, larger radiotherapy doses prove safe for prostate cancer patients

December 13, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Less overall radiotherapy, delivered in fewer but higher doses, is as safe as standard, lower doses for treating prostate cancer, according to new research published in the Lancet Oncology today (Tuesday).

Sensitizing tumor cells to radiotherapy

March 1, 2012
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide. Tumor resistance to radio- and/or chemotherapy remains a significant clinical problem.

Recommended for you

Study: Cells of three advanced cancers die with drug-like compounds that reverse chemo failure

January 23, 2018
Researchers at Southern Methodist University have discovered three drug-like compounds that successfully reverse chemotherapy failure in three of the most commonly aggressive cancers—ovarian, prostate and breast.

'Hijacker' drives cancer in some patients with high-risk neuroblastoma

January 23, 2018
Researchers have identified mechanisms that drive about 10 percent of high-risk neuroblastoma cases and have used a new approach to show how the cancer genome "hijacks" DNA that regulates other genes. The resulting insights ...

Enzyme inhibitor combined with chemotherapy delays glioblastoma growth

January 23, 2018
In animal experiments, a human-derived glioblastoma significantly regressed when treated with the combination of an experimental enzyme inhibitor and the standard glioblastoma chemotherapy drug, temozolomide.

Scientists block the siren call of two aggressive cancers

January 23, 2018
Aggressive cancers like glioblastoma and metastatic breast cancer have in common a siren call that beckons the bone marrow to send along whatever the tumors need to survive and thrive.

Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant

January 23, 2018
A study headed by ICREA researcher Roger Gomis at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) has identified the genes involved in the latent asymptomatic state of breast cancer metastases. The work sheds light ...

Boosting cancer therapy with cross-dressed immune cells

January 22, 2018
Researchers at EPFL have created artificial molecules that can help the immune system to recognize and attack cancer tumors. The study is published in Nature Methods.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.