Purpose of the group:
The Radiotherapy Late effects special interest group (SiG) will provide a platform for therapeutic radiographers to discuss and develop services to support patients with ongoing consequences from their radiotherapy treatment.
Radiotherapy is an integral component of modern cancer care with 4 out of 10 people cured of cancer receiving radiotherapy treatment. Half of those diagnosed with cancer will live for at least 10 years, however 1 in 4 will have enduring physical or psychosocial effects of their cancer or its treatment. It is estimated that 1 million people will be living with the consequences of cancer by 2030.
Radiotherapy late effects usually arise as a consequence of irradiating normal tissues. Toxicities can affect any system of the body and are often permanent and progressive developing from at least 3 months to many decades after radiotherapy. Physical symptoms can include pain, fibrosis, cardiovascular issues, gastrointestinal or urinary problems and second malignancies. These long term consequences and the associated psychological burden diminish quality of life leaving patients questioning “cured – but at what cost?”
Outcomes for cancer patients are a central theme of The NHS Long Term Plan and “by 2021, where appropriate every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care” including those with those with complex post-treatment needs. The Modernising Radiotherapy Service Specification (2019) states “it is expected that specialist late effects centres will manage and co-ordinate the provision of specialist services for complex late effects of cancer treatments”.
There are currently very few dedicated services for adult radiotherapy late effects. There are some services led by a range of health professionals that retrospectively manage patients who have already developed late effects. As therapeutic radiographers we have insight and understanding into all aspects of the radiotherapy pathway including dosimetry, treatment delivery and acute side effects. Our training and roles, supporting patients throughout their radiotherapy treatment, gives therapeutic radiographers a unique opportunity to improve patient outcomes. By predicting or preventing late effects we can offer patients more prospective management rather than waiting for life changing symptoms to appear.
Radiographers with an interest in late effects are often working alone, there is limited discussion or formal guidance. This forum aims provide support and to share clinical expertise and experience to benefit both patients and therapeutic radiographers.
The forum will meet at least once a year (usually in London but subject to change).
Meeting dates will be arranged at the end of each meeting and advertised to all members via the forum.
Membership is free to therapeutic radiographers or any member of the SoR with an interest in radiotherapy late effects.
Chair: Lisa Durrant, Macmillan Consultant Radiographer for radiotherapy late effects, Beacon Radiotherapy, Musgrove Park Hospital, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton. [email protected]
Co-Chair: Emma Hallam, Macmillan Consultant Radiographer for radiotherapy late effects, Nottingham Radiotherapy Centre, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham. [email protected]