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IAEA Expands SAFRON to Improve Safety in Radionuclide Therapy


Radionuclide therapy uses radiopharmaceuticals targeting specific tumors in human body. (Photo: L. Dojcanova/IAEA)

The IAEA has recently launched SAFRON for Radionuclide Therapy, an incident learning system to help medical facilities improve safety of patients and staff. The objective of this new learning system platform is to enhance the planning of radionuclide therapy used to treat, mitigate or control cancer and other diseases by identifying potential safety issues from reported events.  

“The complexity of radionuclide therapy could lead to unintended exposure pathways for the patient, worker, or the public,” said Debbie Gilley, IAEA Radiation Protection Specialist. “Sharing information is key to preventing future incidents in radionuclide therapy.”

SAFRON, which stands for Safety in Radiation Oncology, is an integrated voluntary reporting and learning system originally created to collect and disseminate information on safety-related events — incidents and near misses — in radiotherapy.

SAFRON has now been extended to include “events” from radionuclide therapy, which utilizes radiopharmaceuticals and micro radiation sources that are administered similarly to radiopharmaceuticals that specifically target diseased cells, thus reducing potential side effects. Due to this and other factors, its use is increasing worldwide.

Radionuclide therapy can be administered in many ways – applying it on selective targets such as yttrium 90 microspheres placed in the liver for the treatment of cancer or systemic uptake in the body to irradiate microscopic metastatic disease such as the treatment of remnant thyroid cancer with iodide 131. There are a host of new radionuclides that provide promising results in the treatment of tumours. But with the benefits of this treatment there are safety challenges based on the radionuclide: How is it prepared? And how is it administered to the patient?

Although there are locally based incident reporting systems for radionuclide therapy, the launch of SAFRON for radionuclide therapy allows for sharing of information and learning from good practices with the broader medical community. “The reports available in SAFRON are a valuable resource for identifying events, and published documents can assist the reviewers in understanding the complexity of incidents and identifying methodologies that might be used to prevent future errors,” Gilley said.  

The main goal of SAFRON is to globally improve the safe planning and delivery of radiotherapy and radionuclide therapy by sharing safety-related events and safety analysis. Information submitted is anonymous and dependent on facilities registering and sharing incidents that occur in their institutions.

“The SAFRON website is well designed and comprehensive for radionuclide therapy,” said Dr. Salah-Eddine Bouyoucef, a nuclear medicine physician in Algeria. “This is an excellent initiative for nuclear medicine.”

How to register for SAFRON Radionuclide Therapy Incident Learning

Registered contributors using SAFRON will be able to collect and analyze their reports to track, trend and benchmark activities within their centres and with other SAFRON participants in radiotherapy and radionuclide therapy.

You will need to register with Nucleus to access SAFRON.

Find the detailed instructions here.

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