Childhood cancer experts release updated guidance to ensure best treatment for UK’s young radiotherapy patients

Wednesday 26 September 2018

A panel of childhood cancer experts has produced new best practice guidance for oncology teams and service managers responsible for treating children and teenage cancer patients with radiotherapy.

The second edition of the Good Practice Guide for Paediatric Radiotherapy was created by clinical experts from The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), the Society and College of Radiographers and the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, as well as the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), which represents childhood cancer experts from across the UK.

The comprehensive, easy-to-read document is intended for all UK healthcare workers and service managers involved in paediatric radiotherapy and updates the first good practice guide, which was published in 2012.

The new version takes account of the more widespread adoption of intensity-modulated radiotherapy and image-guided radiotherapy, as well as the development of NHS proton beam radiotherapy services. It also factors in new Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations which came into force in February 2018, as well as RCR recommendations for the peer review of tumour contouring ahead of treatment. 

The guide also received broad input from the paediatric radiotherapy community as part of an RCR stakeholder event held in spring 2018.

Key topics and recommendations include:

  • The ideal composition of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) involved in treatment and the role of individual clinicians and specialists, including clinical oncologists, therapeutic radiographers, play specialists, anaesthetists and physicists
  • The radiotherapy pathway for young patients and the process of introducing patients and families to MDT members
  • Advice on communicating during initial and follow-up consultations, the importance of consent and talking about late effects
  • Clear definitions of the various radiotherapy modalities  
  • Key contacts, considerations and items for documentation during each stage of pre-, during and post-treatment

The panel behind the new guidance was chaired by Mark Gaze, a consultant clinical oncologist at University College London Hospitals and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

Dr Gaze said:

“Our mission, in producing the guide, is to ensure that children, wherever they are, get the best radiotherapy.

“Radiotherapy for children is changing quite dramatically across the UK with the introduction of proton beam therapy services in Manchester and London.

“This could well lead to a reconfiguration of photon radiotherapy services for children and the principles laid out in the guide will, if followed carefully, ensure the best treatment is available for children regardless of where they live.”

Ashley Gamble, Chief Executive of CCLG, added:

“CCLG and our expert members work hard to ensure that all children, teenagers and young adults with cancer receive the best possible treatment and care. At a time of rapid change in children’s radiotherapy services, we’re delighted to launch this new guide alongside our partners.

“This comprehensive guidance will support all staff involved in the delivery of modern radiotherapy services to children, providing advice and recommendations which will ultimately ensure that all children, regardless of where they live, receive the best treatment and a high-quality experience.”

The new guidance document and supporting information can be viewed here.

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact Emma Cooper on 020 7406 5941 or email Out of office hours please call 07554 998197.

The Royal College of Radiologists has over 10,500 Fellows and members worldwide, representing the specialties of clinical radiology and clinical oncology. The College sets and maintains the standards for entry to and practice in the specialties in addition to leading and supporting practitioners throughout their career.

The Society and College of Radiographers is the professional body and trade union for radiographers and all non-medical members of the workforce in diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy in the UK. It is responsible for their professional, educational, public and workplace interests.

The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine is a professional association and Learned Society with more than 4,800 members who are physicists, engineers and technologists working with applications of physics and engineering applied to medicine and biology. Its members work in hospitals, academia and industry, and IPEM has a unique role in linking the three areas. As a charity, its broad aim is to advance the application of physics and engineering to medicine for the public benefit and to advance public education of the field.

The Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group is a leading national charity and expert voice for all childhood cancers. As the UK and Ireland’s professional association for childhood cancer, its network of professional members work together in treatment, care and research to help shape a future where all children with cancer survive and live happy, healthy and independent lives. The group funds and supports innovative world-class research and collaborates, both nationally and internationally, to drive forward improvements in childhood cancer.