Radiotherapy: Treatment efficacy and risk control - public hearing
On request by Mr Claude Birraux, deputy, First Vice-President of the Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Assessment, a public hearing was organised on 'Radiotherapy: treatment efficacy and risk control' on Thursday 15 November at the National Assembly. Thanks to the statements by the best specialists of the field, the hearing was an opportunity to present an exhaustive overview of the new technologies that hold hope for patients because they are all directed towards a better targeting of treatments and a reduction of toxicity for healthy tissues close to the tumoral zone. The Plan Cancer has allowed the country's equipment to be renovated with the generalisation of linear accelerators and innovatory technologies have been rolled out in pilot centres (tomotherapy, CyberKnife, latest generation accelerators...). France, the birthplace of radiotherapy with the Institut Curie, remains, in the field of innovations, a 'country that counts'. Nevertheless, the terrible accidents that recently occurred at Epinal and Toulouse have underscored flaws in a system that appeared to be 'under control'. The various agencies took immediate action and several measures have made up for the most serious shortcomings in the regulatory and organisational field. The public hearing however revealed that major efforts are still necessary as regards in particular the number of personnel and the highly complex surveillance and safety system, whereas, for the nuclear industry, the system is clear and effective. During his statement to the Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Assessment on 27 November 2007, Mr Claude Birraux emphasised the alarmingly low number of medical physicians in France and the need to set in place, for the personnel, training adapted to the continuous evolution of the technologies employed and integrating risk control. Two other remarks were made. The introduction of a safety culture is essential at all stages of the chain, beginning with a verification of the equipment used. During the public hearing, the idea was mentioned of applying to radiotherapy some of the current safety principles in the nuclear industry. The development of research in this field is also a priority. There are considerable needs: metrology of ionising radiation and dosimetry, analysis of secondary effects by the long term follow-up of patients and the creation of epidemiological data bases on a little explored subject, development of new therapeutic approaches to treat complications and launch of a research programme on the suffering of patients.
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Medical technology, Public participation, Risk
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Office Parlementaire d´Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques of the French Parliament (OPECST)