A new report commissioned by the Marie Curie Legacy campaign has outlined that at least a quarter of cancer patients in Europe who need radiotherapy don’t receive it
The report titled ‘Radiotherapy: seizing the opportunity in cancer care’, suggests a a five‑point plan to boost the uptake of the treatment.
It calls on all stakeholders – governments and policymakers, healthcare professionals, patients and professional societies, along with national and international research funds – to become ambassadors to help raise awareness of the benefits.
The report’s author Yolande Lievens, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Ghent University Hospital said: “Radiotherapy saves lives – either used alone or in combination with other types of cancer treatment.
“Currently, radiotherapy is recommended as part of treatment for more than 50% of cancer patients, 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.”
The report’s five key recommendations are:
- Make it a central component of cancer care 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 treatment outcomes for patients and maximise the potential of innovation
- Fully integrate the treatment into planning and decision-making
- Help improve general awareness and understanding of the treatment to ensure it can achieve its full potential for patient care
Throughout the report, the 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 as a cancer treatment and misconceptions regarding the safety of the treatment.
According to recent data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer has shown that in 2018, 4.23 million people received a cancer diagnosis in Europe.
Lydia Makaroff, Director of the European Cancer Patient Coalition said: “Radiotherapy appears to be left on the sidelines of national health policy agendas.
“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.”
A full copy of the report can be accessed here: mariecurielegacy.org