Radiotherapy is a key component of cancer treatment for many patients and is one of the most effective ways of treating cancer, both in terms of cost and results.
The way doctors use radiotherapy has advanced greatly over the past years, and modern equipment and techniques allow very precise delivery of radiation to treat the tumour, reducing the impact on surrounding normal tissue. Even newer technologies are on the horizon, and research is important to ensure they can be adopted safely and quickly, and bring the greatest benefit to patients.
Challenges in radiotherapy research
The NCRI undertook a review of radiotherapy and associated radiobiology research in 2003, and found that it was underfunded and variable in quality. The report resulted in a number of actions, the most substantial of which was the establishment of the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology in Oxford, and an Academic Clinical Oncology and Radiobiology Research Network (ACORRN).
In 2008, a group of NCRI Partners produced a rapid review of further needs in radiotherapy and radiobiology with a ten-point action plan that centres on building national leadership. As a result, the NCRI set up the Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group, known as CTRad.
CTRad: NCRI’s radiotherapy research working group
CTRad was set up in 2009 to focus on clinical and translational issues relating to radiotherapy and radiobiology, as well as developing a portfolio of practice-changing trials. It brings together around 80 experts from the different disciplines involved in radiation-related research.
The group has four workstreams focusing on different aspects of radiotherapy research:
- Science base
- Phase I/II trials
- Phase III trials and methodology
- New technology, physics and quality assurance
A core part of CTRad’s work is to support researchers who are developing radiotherapy research proposals. The group can advise on trial methodology, technical aspects of radiotherapy delivery and translational research opportunities, as well as providing help with delivering quality assurance.