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Research Priorities

  • Radiation therapy can save lives as well as relieve pain and other symptoms, and millions of cancer patients benefit from this treatment each year. The ROI is focused on funding research that will directly impact the practice of radiation oncology and help ensure that more cancer patients who could benefit from radiation therapy receive this less invasive intervention. The ROI has identified and is investing in priority research areas to help radiation oncology be a leader in the movement toward more patient-centered, quality health care and to improve outcomes for cancer patients.

    Safety and Quality

    Although there is a rich resource of established procedures to ensure the delivery of safe radiation therapy, advances in technology have created a corresponding need for research to advance quality assurance and quality improvement. Progress is being made to enhance monitoring the delivery of treatment in real-time and to personalize the planning and delivery process for individual patients.

    Value of RT

    The ROI is investing in research that demonstrates the value of technologies and interventions in radiation oncology by assessing various factors affecting patients and providers including, health benefits, side-effects, quality of life, cost, and productivity loss. Comparisons between conventional and newer treatment options within radiation oncology as well as comparisons between radiation and other treatment modalities are necessary. Such studies have the potential to generate the evidence needed to improve cancer outcomes while slowing the growth of health care spending.

    Toxicity Management

    Radiation therapy can cause short-term and long-term side-effects, and more research is needed on how to manage them, especially as the number of cancer survivors continues to grow. The ROI supports research designed to generate and share evidence-based strategies for managing side-effects from radiation therapy because more effective treatment could improve patients' quality of life and their outcomes by increasing the likelihood that they will complete all of their cancer treatments.

    Comparative Effectiveness

    Comparative effectiveness research (CER) helps physicians understand what interventions work, for which patients, and under what conditions. The ROI supports CER in order to generate evidence to identify treatments that consistently improve health outcomes for specific groups of patients compared to alternatives.

    The ROI's research priorities stem from the findings of the National Radiation Oncology Research Needs Assessment conducted during the ROI’s formative years to determine the most pressing areas of need for research in radiation oncology. The results from the Needs Assessment were published in an Executive Summary and in the October 2012 issue of the Red Journal.