About Policy Forum

Policy forum at the European
Parliament, January 31 2019:
Radiotherapy: seizing the
opportunity in cancer care


In the run-up to World Cancer Day 2019, ECF and ESTRO held a policy forum at the European Parliament hosted by Lieve Wierinck MEP to highlight the importance of radiotherapy as a core pillar of cancer care. The forum, titled Radiotherapy: seizing the opportunity in cancer care, focused on the current challenges surrounding access to high-quality radiotherapy which were published in our recently launched white paper, with speakers highlighting our five-point plan.
The forum included presentations from leading figures, followed by a panel discussion surrounding the need for different stakeholders to tackle the underutilisation of radiotherapy.
Joanna Kazmierska from Greater Poland Cancer Centre, Poznan, opened the presentations, delivering a detailed overview of radiotherapy. She focused on the significant advancements that have been made, saying: ‘Behind all these treatment advancements stands technology.
Antonella Cardone, Director of the European Cancer Patient Coalition, reinforced the importance of radiotherapy as a pillar of cancer treatment while focusing on the patient’s perspective. She cited the 10 facts presented in the white paper and acknowledged that, with current misconceptions and a lack of understanding from both clinicians and patients, attitudes need to change across the board.'
Josep Borras of the Catalan Cancer Strategy and Yolande Lievens from Ghent University Hospital delivered a detailed look at the gaps that need to be filled across Europe and beyond. This included an overview of the existing gaps in the availability of machinery and trained healthcare professionals to deliver radiotherapy. It was noted that there are enormous gaps on a global scale, with some countries having no access to radiotherapy at all. Yolande Lievens said: ‘Based on demographic changes, some countries will need to increase capacity by 25% to keep up with demand.’
The panel discussion, moderated by Umberto Ricardi, ESTRO President, consisted of:

Lieve Wierinck MEP Antonella Cardone, Director, ECPC Nicole Denjoy, Secretary General, COCIR Denis Lacombe, Director, EORTC Michelle Leech, Ass. Prof. of RT, Trinity College Dublin
The panel discussed the question: how can different stakeholders work together to address current gaps in access to radiotherapy across Europe?
An engaged discussion was had, which began with Lieve Wierinck MEP raising the importance of education and shared learning for clinicians. She said: ‘We need a plan where students and specialists can travel across Europe to learn from each other.’ Antonella Cardone also stressed the need for collaboration, raising the need for a multi-stakeholder, multidisciplinary approach.
Michelle Leech pointed to the existing issues surrounding awareness, with too few people being referred for radiotherapy, adding: ‘The lack of referrals illustrates that other [non-specialist] health professionals are not aware of radiotherapy.’
We were delighted with the warm response from the policy forum and the engaging discussions that took place. We would like to thank all the speakers, panellists, attendees, and those who have supported the launch of this white paper and our campaign to ensure everyone who needs radiotherapy has access to it.
Let’s seize the opportunity, together.