Planning for the Best

Tripartite National Strategic Plan for Radiation Oncology 2012-2022

Trends Having an Impact on the Radiation Oncology Sector

Trends Across the Oncology Sector

Cancer care is a dynamic and evolving field, which encompasses the medical disciplines of surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and palliative care. Optimal provision of cancer treatments further relies on a diverse team of allied health professionals. One consequence of the interrelated and complex nature of cancer care provision is that trends within the broader oncology sector have impact on the delivery of quality radiation oncology services.

Increasing incidence of cancer and improved survival prospects for patients are key developments.

Approximately 60% of people diagnosed with cancer will survive more than five years after diagnosis1 and this number will continue growing in absolute terms in line with the increases in cancer incidence2. One of the consequences of increased survival is a proportionate growth in the number of radiotherapy re-treatments required in instances when the cancer recurs.  In the longer-term, improved patient outcomes also mean that an ever-growing number of cancer patients live long enough to develop second primary cancers that also require treatment.

Collaborative approaches to cancer care will continue to grow and strengthen.

Multi-disciplinary care is an important component of national and jurisdictional cancer care frameworks. Multidisciplinary teams (MDT) are an essential element of quality patient care delivery and the emphasis on multidisciplinary care is expected to continue and grow. Multi-disciplinary management of patients often results in increased referrals for radiotherapy treatments as it increases knowledge amongst other clinicians about the benefits of radiotherapy.

Consumer expectations and involvement in cancer control at all levels will increase.

The awareness of cancer and of the available treatment options among cancer patients, carers and their families has been steadily increasing. In addition to the stronger emphasis on information provision by health care professionals, consumers can now access a vast array of information (of variable quality) via the Internet. The role of the healthcare provider will increasingly be one of a partner, who explains and demystifies the vast quantities of information, as well as providing advice on the possible treatment alternatives.  Patients will be increasingly knowledgeable about new radiotherapy techniques and technologies and will likely demand a greater number of treatment options and alternatives, including the integration of supportive and complementary therapies.

Investment in the development of systemic and targeted therapies will continue.

Ongoing translational research is investigating the use of new systemic therapies and targeted therapies that are specifically designed for specific tumour genotypes. Increasing use of tumour genetic testing is expected, allowing the design of treatment regimens that will be most effective for tumour subtypes. This may result in increasing indications for radiotherapy in some cancers and decreasing indications in others.

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