The power of integration: radiotherapy and global palliative care

Posted On 2017-03-07 11:48:05

Abstract: Radiotherapy (RT) is a powerful tool for the palliation of the symptoms of advanced cancer, although access to it is limited or absent in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There are multiple factors contributing to this, including assumptions about the economic feasibility of RT in LMICs, the logical challenges of building capacity to deliver it in those regions, and the lack of political support to drive change of this kind. It is encouraging that the problem of RT access has begun to be included in the global discourse on cancer control and that palliative care and RT have been incorporated into national cancer control plans in some LMICs. Further, RT twinning programs involving high- and low-resource settings have been established to improve knowledge transfer and exchange. However, without large-scale action, the consequences of limited access to RT in LMICs will become dire. The number of new cancer cases around the world is expected to double by 2030, with twice as many deaths occurring in LMICs as in high-income countries (HICs). A sustained and coordinated effort involving research, education, and advocacy is required to engage global institutions, universities, health care providers, policymakers, and private industry in the urgent need to build RT capacity and delivery in LMICs.