Radiotherapy

As the incidence of cancer increases, healthcare systems must find effective and sustainable ways to care for all cancer patients – and radiotherapy is a key part of this. 

Radiotherapy

As the incidence of cancer increases, healthcare systems must find effective and sustainable ways to care for all cancer patients – and radiotherapy is a key part of this. 

Context

The incidence of cancer is increasing, and the growing demand for high-quality cancer care poses a major challenge to healthcare systems. One critical component of cancer care is too often left on the sidelines: radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy is a safe and highly effective cancer treatment, which allows specialists to precisely target and destroy tumour cells. It can be used on its own, or to complement or enhance the effects of other treatments such as surgery. There is evidence that 40% of all cancers cured are eliminated by radiotherapy.

Despite this, misconceptions prevail and radiotherapy remains underused across Europe. It is recommended as part of treatment for more than half of all cancer patients, yet at least a quarter of those who need radiotherapy do not receive it. There is an urgent need to address gaps in utilisation of and access to radiotherapy.

If, by 2035, every cancer patient around the world who needs radiotherapy has access to it, almost one million more lives will be saved every year.

%

Radiotherapy is recommended as part of treatment for more than 50% of cancer patients

%

At least 25% of people who need radiotherapy do not receive it

%

Demand for radiotherapy in Europe will increase by 16% by 2025

What we achieved

The European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) and the ESTRO Cancer Foundation (ECF) commissioned HPP to research, coordinate and draft a white paper on the importance of radiotherapy as a key aspect of cancer care. HPP assembled an expert group to author the white paper, which was launched on 7 November 2018 as part of ESTRO and ECF’s Marie Curie Legacy Campaign.

The white paper includes a five-point plan detailing the measures required to ensure radiotherapy is positioned appropriately within cancer care policies and plans. Its launch was well received and gained news coverage from publications including Radiotherapy and Oncology (Elsevier), eCancer, Physics World and Open Access Government.

Our work with ESTRO and ECF continues. The next phase is a policy forum at the European Parliament on 31 January 2019, at which the five-point plan will be presented and discussed with key stakeholders.

Key partners and stakeholders

Authors:

  • Joanna Kazmierska, Doctor of Radiation Oncology, Greater Poland Cancer Centre, Poznan, Poland
  • Núria Jornet Sala, Medical Physics Senior Consultant, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain
  • Michelle Leech, Professor of Radiation Therapy, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Barbara Alicja Jereczek-Fossa, Chair, Department of Radiotherapy, European Institute of Oncology, Milan; Professor of Radiation Oncology, University of Milan, Italy
  • Yolande Lievens, Chair, Radiation Oncology Department, Ghent University Hospital; Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, Ghent University; Past-President, European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, Belgium
  • John Yarnold, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK
The project was part of the Marie Curie Legacy Campaign, an initiative of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) and the ESTRO Cancer Foundation.