The role of radiation oncology in the fight against cancer will be the topic of an upcoming briefing for members of Congress and their staffs by three professional societies that represent radiation oncology service providers. Slated for March 31, the briefing will include participants from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). Cancer survivors will also share their perspective during the presentation.
The societies aspire to impart on congressional representatives, especially those serving their first term, the value of radiation oncology as a cancer treatment. They also hope to educate those present about new technologies and significant advances in patient care, as well as the focus on patient safety at community cancer treatment centers.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), a registered nurse and advocate for patient safety, and Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), a breast cancer survivor who underwent radiation therapy, are co-sponsoring the briefing. Patient advocate organizations are represented by the Community Oncology Alliance and the National Patient Advocate Foundation. Several community cancer treatment center corporations and radiation oncology vendors are lending their support as well.
Dave Adler, ASTRO’s director of government relations, notes that of the three primary cancer treatments -- surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy – the latter is often the most misunderstood and is frequently confused with diagnostic imaging. He observes that while the media allot ample coverage to radiation dose errors, the effectiveness and safety of radiation therapy treatments that occur every day are not as well publicized.
ASRT anticipates that the briefing will provide a prime opportunity for the societies to educate federal lawmakers about the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility, and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy (CARE) bill, reports Christine Lung, the society’s vice president of government relations and public policy. Now entering its 12th year of congressional consideration, the bill would establish minimum education and certification standards for clinical and technical personnel involved in diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy treatment.