Radiation Oncology Remains ‘Third Leg of the Stool’ in Cancer Treatment, But Continues to Be Successful

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The emergence of using hypofractionated radiation treatments—fewer radiation treatments at larger doses—across cancer types may place financial strain on radiation oncologists, but one expert notes there’s still continued success.

As radiation oncologists transition to using hypofractionated radiation more frequently to treat various cancer types, there may be a dip in revenue stream for providers.

However, one expert noted that the field continues to be successful even as it remains the third leg of the stool when it comes to cancer treatments.

During the 2022 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting, CancerNetwork® spoke with Louis Potters, MD, FACR, FABS, FASTRO, about where the radiation oncology space is heading over the next few years.

Potters, who is the chair of the Department of Radiation Medicine and deputy physician-in-chief of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute in New Hyde Park, New York, explained how the meeting validated his belief that radiation oncology remains a strong space for providers.

Transcript:

It's important to recognize and be appreciative of the foundation of what radiation therapy offers patients [with cancer] in general and some patients [without cancer] as we're starting to do work with patients with cardiac arrhythmias and other non–cancer–related illnesses. But the foundation of the specialty remains really strong. Clearly, as a multidisciplinary approach toward managing patients with cancer in general, [radiation oncology] remains sort of the third leg of the stool, as the analogy refers to, between medical and surgical oncology. We are in a position to utilize data in a new and sort of unique way that allows us to create very personalized or precision type decision-making for patients. In general, the specialty remains really strong.

There is concern about the continued use of hypofractionation as perhaps a source of erosion of the financial base of radiation oncology because we are still in a fee-for-service world. That transition has been happening over the last number of years; it's certainly been the case in my department. And yet, we continue to be successful from a financial perspective that allows us to continue to be viable and up to date with investing in technology and whatnot. I'm very bullish on the specialty, and if anything, the meeting this year validated a lot of my sixth sense about that.

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