KT Seminars

Global Health: Enhancing Access to Cancer Radiation Therapy

by Manjit Dosanjh (University of Oxford (GB)/ICEC), Taofeeq Abdallah Ige (University of Abuja, NIGERIA.)

40/S2-C01 - Salle Curie (CERN)

40/S2-C01 - Salle Curie


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Radiation therapy (RT) is critical for the curative treatment or for palliation of symptoms due to cancer for over half of all cancer patients, with the number of patients increasing with time. In the face of this growing burden there is a global shortage of RT equipment, staff, opportunities for education and training as well as innovation in treatment technology.

This lack of access to RT in Low and Mid-Income Countries (LMICs) was articulated in 2015 by the Lancet Commission on Radiation Therapy. Ideally, the RT service would be provided with linear accelerators (linacs) that offer state-of-the-art treatment. It is safer than treatment with cobalt-60 sources, with the added benefit that linacs have no radioactive sources thereby avoiding security risks. Currently, RT technology built for the developing world is of high cost to acquire and is complex to operate and service. 

Africa,  a continent  with  over 1.2 billion  inhabitants has  just over 400 linacs .The population served by each linac is a critical factor in evaluating the RT services provided by countries. The IAEA recommendation is 1 unit for every 250,000 people and yet none of the 54 countries in Africa is even close to being able to satisfy this recommendation. The lack of RT capacity is especially pronounced in the Sub-Saharan region where most of the 27 African countries that do not have linacs are located.   

As a quick comparison, Switzerland with a population of  8.8 million has  85 linacs (1 linac per 96,600 people), UK with 67.8 million has  357 linacs (I linac per 190,000 people), and the USA with 341.6 million have  3879 ( 1 linac per 88,000 people).

 In recognition of both the shortfall of RT services in LMICs and the poor performance in LMICs of linacs current designed for use in high income countries, Project STELLA  was initiated by ICEC in collaboration  with CERN, STFC, UK universities and African partners. 

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