Radiotherapy is 'undervalued' and 'needs greater investment' say experts

November 7, 2018, European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology

Radiotherapy is 'undervalued' and 'needs greater investment' according to a new report published today commissioned by the Marie Curie Legacy Campaign—an initiative of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) and the ESTRO Cancer Foundation (ECF).

'Radiotherapy saves lives—either used alone or in combination with other types of treatment,' says report author, Yolande Lievens, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Ghent University Hospital, and Past-President of ESTRO. 'Currently, is recommended as part of treatment for more than 50% of cancer , but across Europe, at least a quarter of people who need radiotherapy do not receive it. This is wholly unacceptable and a missed opportunity for cancer patients.'

Entitled Radiotherapy: seizing the opportunity in cancer care, the white paper recommends a five point plan to boost uptake of radiotherapy and calls on all stakeholders—governments and policymakers, healthcare professionals, patients and professional societies, along with national and international research funds—to become 'radiotherapy ambassadors' to help raise awareness of the benefits of radiotherapy and secure its valuable position in comprehensive, optimal cancer care.

The report's authors cite shortages of high-quality equipment, variations in training, insufficient integration of radiotherapy into treatment plans, lack of investment in research, lack of general understanding of radiotherapy as a cancer treatment and misconceptions regarding the safety of radiotherapy among the important factors contributing to radiotherapy's poor image and underuse.

The report's five key recommendations are:

  • Make radiotherapy a central component of in policies, planning and budgets
  • Achieve recognition of all radiotherapy professions and harmonise education and training standards across Europe
  • Invest in research and use of data to continuously improve radiotherapy outcomes for patients and maximise the potential of innovation
  • Fully integrate radiotherapy into treatment planning and decision-making
  • Help improve general awareness and understanding of radiotherapy to ensure it can achieve its full potential for patient care

In 2018, 4.23 million people received a cancer diagnosis in Europe3 - and the incidence of cancer is increasing. The demand for radiotherapy is expected to see a 16% increase by 2025.4,5

'Radiotherapy appears to be left on the sidelines of national health policy agendas,' says Lydia Makaroff, Director of the European Cancer Patient Coalition. 'Greater investment, improved access and better understanding of radiotherapy—both at a national and international level—is vital. This will ensure that patients get the best possible and most effective care for their particular type of cancer, leading to better outcomes and more lives saved.'

Explore further: Are provider-related factors affecting the likelihood of breast preservation?

More information: mariecurielegacy.org/

Related Stories

Are provider-related factors affecting the likelihood of breast preservation?

July 21, 2016
Do regional practice patterns for radiotherapy for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer increase the likelihood of mastectomy when there is a second breast cancer in women who did not receive radiotherapy at the ...

Shorter courses of prostate cancer radiotherapy are safe and effective

April 23, 2018
Radiotherapy given in high doses over a shorter period of time is safe and effective for prostate cancer patients, according to research presented at the ESTRO 37 conference today.

Correcting tiny differences in patient's position for radiotherapy could increase survival chances

April 22, 2018
Very small differences in the way a patient lies during radiotherapy treatment for lung or oesophageal cancer can have an impact on how likely they are to survive, according to research presented at the ESTRO 37 conference.

Senior CA patients also benefit from palliative radiotherapy

May 30, 2018
(HealthDay)—All patients with painful bone metastasis should be referred for palliative radiotherapy to relieve the pain, regardless of age, according to a study published online May 23 in the Journal of Medical Imaging ...

Radiotherapy risks are much higher for smokers

March 20, 2017
Smokers treated for breast cancer have much higher risks than non-smokers of developing lung cancer or heart attack as a result of radiotherapy - according to a new study funded by Cancer Research UK and published today in ...

Expanding global access to radiotherapy

October 7, 2015
Queen's University researcher Timothy Hanna has co-authored a Lancet Oncology study that suggests as many as 90 per cent of people in low-income countries lack access to radiotherapy treatment. The lack of access to radiotherapy ...

Recommended for you

Photoacoustic imaging may help doctors detect ovarian tumors earlier

November 14, 2018
Ovarian cancer claims the lives of more than 14,000 in the U.S. each year, ranking fifth among cancer deaths in women. A multidisciplinary team at Washington University in St. Louis has found an innovative way to use sound ...

MRI tool watches how electrical stimulation could cure digestive disorders

October 24, 2018
More than 60 million people in the U.S. suffer from disorders in the gastrointestinal tract that could be cured by electrical stimulation, but scientists don't fully understand the therapy's effects on a critical organ: the ...

Accurate evaluation of chondral injuries by near infrared spectroscopy

October 18, 2018
Osteoarthritis is a disabling disease characterised by joint pain and restricted mobility, affecting especially the elderly. The disease generally progresses slowly, even over decades. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis, however, ...

3-D mammography detected 34% more breast cancers in screening

October 15, 2018
In traditional mammography screening, all breast tissue is captured in a single image. Breast tomosynthesis, on the other hand, is three-dimensional and works according to the same principle as what is known as tomography. ...

Carotid artery MRI improves risk assessment for cardiovascular disease

October 9, 2018
MRI measurements of wall thickness in the carotid arteries improve cardiovascular disease risk assessment, according to a new study appearing in the journal Radiology.

Improved in vivo imaging of atherosclerotic plaque development

September 28, 2018
Atherosclerosis, a process involving the buildup of arterial plaque and an associated reduction in blood flow, is a major feature of cardiovascular diseases. Although advances have been made in characterizing how this buildup ...

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.