Radiotherapy is an essential intervention for the treatment and care of the most common cancers globally, including cervical, breast, colorectal, head and neck cancers. On average, radiotherapy is recommended for more than 50% of cancer patients. Furthermore, radiotherapy also offers immense value for people living with cancer, through the provision of palliative care and pain relief.
Access to radiotherapy is limited, especially in resource limited settings. As many as nine out of 10 people in low-income countries (LICs) cannot access radiotherapy services. And although a crucial component in cancer treatment and care, radiotherapy is frequently the last resource to be considered during the planning and building of treatment capacity. The barriers to access are many and include challenges in health systems infrastructure, issues with procurement of equipment needed and lack of an adequate and trained health workforce.
In order to address effective and comprehensive cancer control, access to radiotherapy should be a priority. Countries should move towards strengthening the management of cancer, which includes scaling up of resources for the inclusion of radiotherapy services. Efforts must be made to address access barriers to radiotherapy to ensure equitable and quality access globally.
This Special Focus Dialogue explored and discussed: