Building on the HERO and GTFRCC initiatives, the time to build momentum is now. We must establish the context, map the current resources and join forces to provide effective radiotherapy as an essential part of multidisciplinary cancer care

Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control

In 2013, the Board of the Union for International Cancer Control convened the Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control (GTFRCC) to address the challenge of closing the global inequity gap in access to radiotherapy.  The GTFRCC brought together over 100 experts, including radiotherapy professionals, industry partners, cancer control organisations, and economists to clarify the challenge and quantify the investment needed to provide equity in global access to radiation therapy. Further to that, by determining the global burden of cancer amenable to radiation therapy and the cost to build the infrastructure and train professionals to deliver the treatment, the GTFRCC demonstrated the economic gains as a result of an investment in radiation therapy

Invited by the Lancet Oncology to be a commission of the Lancet, the GTFRCC published their results in a standalone edition of the journal in September 2015. The release of the findings helped dispel misconceptions about radiotherapy being too costly to deliver. It brought global attention to the severity of the radiotherapy inequity problem, demonstrated a positive return on investment for radiotherapy, and articulated the need to act immediately to remedy the crisis [Atun et al. 2015].

The report along with the WHO’s Global NCD Action Plan to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by 25% and to increase the availability of technologies used to manage NCDs by 80%, has positioned radiotherapy as a priority for investment. It is now time to act and to respond to the Commission’s five calls-to-action.

Health Economics in Radiation Oncology

Acknowledging the growing importance of economics in health care, ESTRO (the European SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology) decided to tackle the challenge by developing a pan-European knowledge base and model for health economic evaluation of radiation treatments, at the level of individual European countries. In 2010, ESTRO initiated the HERO (Health Economics in Radiation Oncology) project and has since been addressing the availability, the need, the cost, and the cost-effectiveness of radiotherapy [Lievens at al. 2014; Grau et al. 2014; Dunscombe et al. 2014; Borras et al. 2015].

The project is carried out in close collaboration with the European national societies of radiation oncology. By providing an updated and validated description of the European radiotherapy landscape, and through the development of web-based cost and cost-effectiveness models, the ultimate goal of HERO is to support the European countries and their national radiotherapy societies in benchmarking their position in Europe, support better planning and prioritization, allowing them to compute the cost and cost-effectiveness of radiotherapy in their specific economic context and paving the way to properly position radiation oncology in the multidisciplinary oncology landscape.

ESTRO, the European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology

The ESTRO Vision aims at ensuring to every cancer patient access to state of the art radiation therapy, as part of a multidisciplinary approach where treatment is individualised for the specific patient’s cancer, taking account of the patient’s personal circumstances.

With over 6500 members in and outside Europe, ESTRO supports all the Radiation Oncology professionals in their daily practice: Radiation Oncologists, Medical Physicists, Radiobiologists and RTTs (Radiation TherapisTs) and the wider oncology community.

With the solid background provided by the GTFRCC and the HERO project, ESTRO leads the GIRO initiative, uniting the radiation oncology community to tackle the global problem of access to radiotherapy, with the ultimate aim of saving one million lives by 2035.