A special joint issue of the EONS magazine with the European SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Guest editorial by ESTRO President Yolande Lievens who introduces a series of articles that shed light on the different aspects of radiation oncology
“Every cancer patient in Europe will have access to state of the art radiation therapy, as part of a multi-disciplinary approach where treatment is individualised for the specific patient’s cancer, taking account of the patient’s personal circumstances.” ESTRO Vision 2020.1
As President of the European SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology – ESTRO, it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome you to this joint issue of the EONS magazine, that will help you discover our society by shedding light on different aspects of radiation oncology.
Radiation therapy is one of the three cornerstones of multidisciplinary cancer treatment. As you can see from our patient-centric vision statement, the common endeavour of all radiotherapy professionals is to offer the best available radiation treatment to all cancer patients who need it. And they are numerous! Based on the available evidence, about half of patients diagnosed with cancer will require radiation therapy in the course of his or her disease, either in the curative setting, or in view of palliating cancer-related symptoms and improved quality of life2 3
Interdisciplinary collaboration and the three pillars
Our society, founded in 1980, also strongly builds on the concept of interdisciplinary collaboration. Radiation oncologists and medical physicists; radiation therapists (RTT), radiotherapy nurses and dosimetrists; brachytherapists and radiobiologists – in total, almost 7,000 professionals from within and outside Europe – work closely together with a strong commitment towards our patients. ESTRO in return, provides the ideal framework for this collaboration. The activities of ESTRO are organised in three different pillars: education, science dissemination and stakeholders’ engagement. The first two of these have formed the backbone of ESTRO for the first three decades.
Over the years, under the umbrella of the ESTRO School, a strong educational programme has been developed. In an extensive portfolio, providing live courses – within as well as outside Europe – and a varied blended learning programme, education covering the entire spectrum of radiotherapy topics is offered to our membership. Scientific dissemination, meanwhile, has been made possible through annual ESTRO meetings and smaller, often multidisciplinary, disease-oriented conferences, for which ESTRO collaborates with other organisations in the field of oncology. The other strong assets in this context are our journals. The European ‘Radiotherapy and Oncology’ journal, also known as the ‘Green Journal’, focusing on areas of interest related to radiation oncology, has recently been joined by three new open access journals. The latter are more specifically dedicated to radiobiology, epidemiology and oncopolicy (ctRO); radiation physics and imaging (phiRO), and, last but not least, technical and nursing aspects in radiation oncology (tipsRO).
Recognising that it is not only important to have strong bonds within the radiation oncology community – with the National Societies being our evident immediate partners – ESTRO has more recently started to invest in setting up connections and collaborations outside the inner circle. The importance of a strong collaboration with other oncology professionals has already been mentioned in the context of providing optimal multidisciplinary care. But in addition, ESTRO is investigating how to work more closely with the other stakeholders. Although collaborations already exist with specific patient representatives, ESTRO is currently exploring how to integrate patients more closely into the society’s structure. In addition, collaboration has been set up with industry partners and discussions initiated with policy makers.
Topics in this issue
As such, we are very happy to illustrate some specific radiation oncology topics in this EONS issue. The first contributions exemplify the patient-centric approach that ESTRO pursues: the article by Anita O’Donovan focuses on a specific subset of our radiotherapy patient population, the elderly. Not only is this a fast-growing patient group, but often being more frail and presenting with more co-morbidities, specific considerations have to be taken into account when it comes to irradiating elderly patients. The piece by Annette Boejen and Rikke Poulsen gives an example of how the patient can be involved in treatment decisions. The personalised approach, in which the treatment is not only adapted to the specific patients’ anatomy prior to treatment, but also to the changes in anatomy and tumour extent during treatment, is described by Rianna De Jong.
Radiation therapy is an innovative and rapidly evolving discipline. That this poses specific challenges from the educational perspective, yet also provides opportunities for career development, is described by Ingrid Kristensen. Counterbalancing the technical part of the job, Daniel Zips explains the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration if our aim is to obtain the best outcome for each individual cancer patient. Lastly, Nuria Jornet describes the role of the medical physicist in safeguarding radiation oncology development.
I am convinced that these articles will give you a good insight into the fascinating world of radiation oncology, but if you want to learn more about us and our discipline, I cordially invite you to check out our website and welcome you to join the readership of our journals, especially tipsRO. And, why not come and visit us during our ESTRO 36 meeting in Vienna, Austria, 5-9 May 2017?