Syllabus Developed for Radiation Oncologists
Staff Training Crucial in Fight Against Cancer
Radiotherapy could cure almost half of all cancers, but is largely unavailable in poor countries. Here, a man receives treatment using a modern radiotherapy machine. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)
Cancer killed 7.6 million people in 2005. By 2020 it could kill 16 million people each year. And more than 75% of new cancer cases and cancer deaths will be in developing countries. This dim vista can change with adequate radiotherapy equipment, facilities and knowledgeable staff in low and middle income countries.
To address the critical shortage of trained radiotherapy staff in developing nations, the IAEA´s Division of Human Health (NAHU) has developed a syllabus outlining the organization of training for radiation oncologists and the curriculum of subjects to be taught. The syllabus will be available to Member States and radiation oncologists in developing countries in 2009.
"The syllabus is for educational centres in low-middle income countries that intend to establish and maintain a training programme for radiation oncologists. By following our syllabus they will be able to have guidance on how to do it in a relatively quick and effective way," says the IAEA´s Eduardo Rosenblatt, a Radiation Oncologist in charge of its development.
Available in hard copy and free-of-charge on the IAEA website, the syllabus will be available in English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.
Radiotherapy could cure almost half of all cancers, but is largely unavailable in poor countries. Also, a major obstacle to advancing cancer care capacity, whether in treatment or prevention, is a shortage of capable professionals in the field. Staff who are not sufficiently trained are not able to optimise the use of radiotherapy equipment and facilities where they do exist.
This is just one in a series of IAEA produced syllabi for the training of professionals like medical physicists, radiation therapy technologists and nurses. The current course materials, which are aimed at doctors and radiation oncology specialists include: full core curriculum, training objectives, and skill levels required, as well as a check-list for the effective auditing of radiation oncology training programmes.
This IAEA Syllabus has been endorsed by ESTRO (European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology) and ASTRO (American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology), for the training of radiation oncologists in developing countries.
See Story Resources for more information.