Radiation oncology leads translational medicine

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The term radiation oncology describes the translational integration of radiotherapy and radiosurgery, radiation biology and radiation physics into the complexity of multi-modal therapy. The specialty and its technologies have come a long way from the day when William Roentgen attempted to treat a mole with x-rays.

The integration of clinical radiotherapy, radiation biology and radiation physics into general treatment approaches and the application of these findings in a timely fashion will continue success in local tumor control and lead to success in improving overall patient survival rates.

This is of particular importance this month as new data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) showed that some of the most densely populated areas of the United States—the Northeast and Midwest—are experiencing the highest rates of brain cancer.

In fact, they are one-third more likely than those in the South or West to be hospitalized for treatment of brain cancer or to be diagnosed with brain cancer when hospitalized for another illness or complication, according to AHRQ.

For these patients and potential patients, efforts of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) are of critical importance. The RTOG, administered by the American College of Radiology, is a national multicenter clinical trials organization that tests radiotherapy and combined modality approaches to cancer treatment.

The group reported this month that the National Cancer Institute has extended its cooperative group agreement with it for an additional six years and awarded it $60.5 million in grant funding. The cooperative clinical research grant will help fund RTOG’s roster of 37 clinical trials open to patient enrollment at more than 300 research institutions in the U.S., Canada and internationally.

For brain cancer patients, there was encouraging news published this month that administering the chemotherapy drug temozolomide to patients with a glioblastoma--in combination with radiotherapy—increases their life expectancy for up to five years.

Also, in other clinical news, radiation therapy has demonstrated promise as a first-line treatment for early-stage prostate cancer and as a treatment prior to surgery for rectal cancer.

If you’re looking to add or bolster the radiotherapy or radiosurgery capabilities of your practice in the coming months, please stop by our Healthcare Tech Guide. We have listings for vendors, systems, training and services for a variety of products spanning radiation oncology.

In closing, if you have a comment or report to share about radiation oncology in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Web Editor