Deborah A. Kuban, MD, FASTRO
More than half of all cancer patients benefit from radiation therapy, yet funding to support research to advance the field of radiation oncology is comparatively small. The Radiation Oncology Institute (ROI) is working to address this disparity by supporting research and programs that heighten the critical role of radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer.
The ROI has strategically funded more than $2 million of research in high priority areas identified in the National Radiation Oncology Research Needs Assessment, which we commissioned in 2012. Safety and quality, toxicity management and the comparative value of radiation therapy are among the critical topics that form the ROI’s Research Agenda. For example, our inaugural research award supported the first clinical demonstration of a new system that uses images captured during radiation treatment to monitor delivery in real-time, which can prevent mistreatments. The system was successfully implemented, and the number of centers using the system and patients benefitting from it has since expanded. ROI’s support for this potentially important tool for improving safety and quality in radiation therapy is indicative of our focus on funding projects that have the potential to change the practice of radiation oncology.
To this end, ROI is also supporting the development of the RadOnc Toolbox app and website. Practitioners will have at their fingertips a wealth of information about evidence-based interventions for managing the common radiation-related toxicities, a reference for prescribing commonly used medications in the radiation oncology clinic, Dose-Volume Histogram Constraints for various treatment sites, dose conversion calculators, toxicity scales, performance status scales and other clinical tools. The app is in the final stages of testing and will be released in the near future.
Research demonstrating the comparative and cost effectiveness of radiation therapy is especially important in making the case for using radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer in this day and age of competitive, evidence-based medicine. ROI has made three research awards funding studies on the comparative value of radiation therapy—two comparing the use of radiation versus surgery in early stage non-small cell lung cancer and another conducting parallel comparative effectiveness and cost comparison studies for early-stage and locally advanced oropharyngeal cancer. We are looking forward to seeing and sharing the results when these studies are complete.
The Radiation Oncology Institute might also be associated with a more common definition for the acronym ROI, “return on investment.” In a relatively short amount of time, the Radiation Oncology Institute has grown from an idea to a successful campaign, establishing a significant sized endowment and already providing our supporters with a demonstrable return on their investment. We are grateful to all of the individuals, corporations, private practice groups and academic institutions that make up our Founder’s Circle Investors and our Annual Giving Society. We need your continued support and invite those who have not yet donated to do so today.
Please explore our website to learn more about how the ROI is working to ensure the future of the radiation oncology profession and how to support us in this endeavor.