Training and Smart Decision Making Key In Considering New Technology
Experts in the audience and on the panel shared thoughts and experiences during the Scientific Forum on the third day of the 54th IAEA General Conference. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)
"New doesn´t necessarily mean Better" was one of the dominant messages during the Scientific Forum at the 54th IAEA General Conference, where cancer experts discussed Emerging Technologies, Challenges and Opportunities: Role of Imaging in Breast Cancer.
Gunilla Svane, Associate Professor in the Mammography Section of the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, said medical practitioners should ensure that new technology - like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for instance - will save more lives and be a better diagnostic tool than their current, cheaper technology - such as mammography and ultrasound.
Niloy Datta, Senior Consultant and Co-ordinator in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre in India, proposed that developing countries would benefit greatly from employing the Three Tier Tele-Networking System for Comprehensive Radiotherapy Care which is used in India.
The system involves first creating new radiotherapy facilities with basic teletherapy units. These primary radiotherapy centres would be responsible for early detection and preventive oncology in various communities.
Existing radiotherapy centres would then need to be augmented by secondary radiotherapy centres that provide teletherapy, brachytherapy, as well as simulator and treatment planning.
And thirdly, a centre with advanced treatment facilities, teaching, training and research should be identified. This tertiary radiotherapy centre with state of the art equipment would deal with only the most complex cases that have been referred from the lower level centres.
Another key point stressed by experts on the panel and in the audience was that staff should be well trained to handle any new technology. This need for training is often ignored in many facilities around the world.
Equity in global health care, especially in cancer has been a matter of great concern for all national and international agencies. The burden of cancer care could assume mammoth proportions by the year 2020. And of the estimated 10 million deaths due to cancer, 75% would occur in developing countries.
Presently less than 25% of the patients in developing countries have access to radiation therapy, which could cure 50% of cancers, if used alone or in combination with other methods.
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-- By Sasha Henriques, IAEA Division of Public Information