Building a National Radiation Oncology Registry                                             


How good are external-beam radiation and brachytherapy at killing prostate cancer? Do results vary depending on the institution? Is one form of radiation, or a particular dose, more effective than another? What about the addition of temporary hormonal therapy to radiation therapy in men at high risk of recurrence? Radiation oncologist Phuoc Tran, M.D., Ph.D., believes the best way to find out is with a National Radiation Oncology Registry. With colleagues from top-ranked institutions nationwide, he has established a pilot registry that he hopes will get this project started. This effort was recently chronicled in the Journal of Oncology Practice. "The pilot registry, which uses a consensus- based set of prostate cancer data elements as a model, will provide the framework for expanding to a national electronic registry for radiation oncology in the United States," he says.

The National Radiation Oncology Registry is a national collaborative initiative between the Radiation Oncology Institute and the American Society for Radiation Oncology. Its mission, says Tran, "is to improve the care of cancer patients by capturing reliable information on treatment delivery and health outcomes." Prostate cancer has been selected for this pilot, he adds, because of its "high incidence, multiple management options, potential public health and economic implications, and because it was identified by the Institute of Medicine as the area of oncology most in need of comparative effectiveness research."

A national registry "would yield invaluable quality improvement potential by focusing on best practices, treatment effectiveness, and practice patterns of care," Tran adds. "Benchmarking across institutions will promote rapid learning and accountable cancer care, and will benefit patients through improved health outcomes." With such a registry, doctors can evaluate how well men do with specific doses and treatments, "and this will transform our efforts to improve quality and safety in radiation oncology."

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