Gary Walker, MD, MPH, MS, a head and neck radiation oncologist at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, Arizona, expressed concern about the disparities identified in the adoption of advanced radiation therapy techniques for patients with head and neck cancer.
“Despite widespread availability of advanced radiation therapy techniques that are often used in head and neck cancer, these disparities suggest that disadvantaged patients are more likely to endure potentially preventable toxicity and worse quality of life when they do not receive more advanced radiation treatment for their head and neck cancer,” Dr. Walker told The ASCO Post.
Gary Walker, MD, MPH, MS
According to Dr. Walker, future health policies that increase access to advanced radiation therapy techniques may help address this disparity. In addition, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has ongoing efforts to bring head and neck cancer expertise to the community, including rural centers, through educational opportunities.
“Advanced technology is expensive and may not be economically viable at small centers, which tend to be in more rural areas,” explained Dr. Walker. “Policy changes and reimbursement models that encourage implementation of advanced technologies in technically challenging disease sites like head and neck cancer are desperately needed.”
“ASTRO also has existing educational opportunities to train physicians, physicists and dosimetrists on guideline-based adoption and implementation of advanced techniques,” he added.
DISCLOSURE: Dr. Walker reported no conflicts of interest.
Advanced radiotherapy techniques may reduce the risk of severe and debilitating toxicity associated with radiation, but not all patients have equal access to these modalities, according to data presented at the 2022 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium.1 Retrospective analysis of the...