The ASN gives an overview of the first international conference on the radiological protection of patients during radiotherapy
Report on the first conference on the radiological protection of patients
The ASN gives an overview of the first international conference on the radiological protection of patients during radiotherapy.
Between 2 and 4 December 2009 the ASN organised a conference in Versailles on the radiological protection of patients during radiotherapy, with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the European Commission and the participation of numerous professional bodies and associations and patient associations.
The following were presented:
- the main advances in the area of new technologies used in external radiotherapy and brachytherapy;
- a report on the available scientific and medical knowledge on secondary effects and possible complications linked to radiotherapy and on the individual radiosensitivity of patients;
- the main information received concerning feedback from experience from accidents and from preventive measures to reduce the risks.
Discussions were conducted, held in the form of round tables, on the acceptability of the risk and on information received from patients, with the participation of and accounts from several patient associations.
The conference brought together more than 330 delegates, representing 34 different countries, listened to 50 speakers chosen from among the world’s specialists and put nearly 70 posters on display. It brought together all the professionals and organisations involved in the field of safety in radiotherapy, in particular health professionals, patient associations, representative bodies and equipment manufacturers.
André-Claude Lacoste, chairman of the ASN and Professor Jean-Marc Cosset, a radiotherapist from the Institut Curie, member of the International Commission for Radiological Protection (ICRP) and chairman of the conference’s scientific committee, concluded the conference by emphasising the following points:
- the essential position occupied by radiotherapy in the treatment and cure of cancers is reaffirmed;
- technical developments in this field, although bringing new benefits, also generate new risks. The training of operators must therefore be improved and the initial use of these new techniques should be subject to independent evaluation by professionals, against standards to be defined internationally;
- efforts at local and international level to record and analyse undesirable effects and complications experienced in the use of treatments must be intensified. Significant event declaration systems must be developed with the aim of providing analysis and feedback;
- the safety culture in radiotherapy centres must continue to move forward through the implementation of quality assurance and risk analyses by a sufficient number of trained professionals;
- greater involvement by the authorities is necessary, in order to promote action in the areas of quality assurance, risk analysis, good clinical practice and clinical audits;
- the coordination of research programmes is essential, if we are ultimately to have available radiosensitivity tests that are both quick and simple;
- it is beneficial to have an involvement of patients and their associations in areas involving the evaluation of the quality and safety of treatments and concerning the management of risk and communication.
The presentations, posters and conference summary will be available on the ASN web site from early 2010 so that they can be widely distributed.
The ASN will shortly present the conference’s conclusions to the national committee, chaired by the chairman of the INCa (National Cancer Institute), in charge of the monitoring of the national action plan for radiotherapy issued by the Minister of Health. This will allow the identification of any possible additional action required. The ASN will continue its international discussions with the IAEA, the WHO and the European Commission, to clear the way for new initiatives and research, with a view to improving knowledge and strengthening the safety of radiological care.
At the end of the conference, the chairman of the ASN underlined the potential value of a further international conference on the radiological protection of patients, held within the next two years. Clearly, the ASN is ready to make its contribution.