In the UK, one in two people are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes1 and of those who survive 40% can attribute their cure to treatment including radiotherapy. After surgery, radiotherapy is the most effective cure for cancer in the UK2.
In 2003, radiotherapy was recognised as being in crisis. Following the Rapid Review of radiotherapy and radiobiology research in 2008, the National Cancer Research Institute CTRad (Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Working Group) was set up to provide leadership and to revitalise radiotherapy research across the UK. CTRad has been very effective in catalysing research and increasing trial recruitment. However, there is still much to do. The Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy aims to work in partnership with CTRad to engage the wider STFC funded capability in both the STFC National Laboratories and universities and to draw on the STFC experience and expertise within them. In doing so it aims to engage across the remit of STFC activities and aid their translation into the clinical environment.
The basic tenet of radiotherapy is to maximise the damage to the tumour while minimising the damage to the surrounding healthy tissue (to reduce side effects). In recent years, radiotherapy has developed rapidly with the development of new machines and methodologies. These in turn, have resulted in better imaging, treatment planning and dosimetry, which enable the dose to be more accurately delivered and conformed to the tumour. They have also thrown up a range of interesting new challenges and issues all of which require innovation and solutions. This is exactly where the STFC community can make an enormous impact as they have exactly the skill set which is needed to effectively tackle the new challenges as they arise. If the UK is to remain competitive and deliver even better treatment for patients and produce income and impact for the UK economy, it can no longer rely on serendipitous partnerships. This is what this Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy seeks to address.
1 Ahmed AS, Ormiston-Smith N, Sasiene PD. Trends in the lifetime risk of developing cancer in Great Britain: Comparison of risk for those born in 1930 to 1960. Br J Cancer 2015; bjc.2014:606
2 Achieving a World Class Radiotherapy Service across the UK, CRUK; http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/prod_consump/groups/cr_common/@nre/@pol/documents/generalcontent/crukmig_1000ast-3360.pdf