Radiotherapy prioritization in 143 national cancer control plans: Correlation with radiotherapy machine availability, geography and income level

Published:September 13, 2022DOI:


      • The inclusion rate of radiotherapy within 55% of NCCPs falls short of the 80% target set by GTFRCC.
      • Inclusion of radiotherapy specific planning in NCCPs varied according to income level and geography.
      • Prioritisation of radiotherapy in NCCPs is correlated with radiotherapy machine availability.
      • This study supports the importance of including radiotherapy in a country’s NCCP.



      In 2015, the Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control (GTFRCC) called for 80% of National Cancer Control Plans (NCCP) to include radiotherapy by 2020. As part of the ongoing ESTRO Global Impact of Radiotherapy in Oncology (GIRO) project, we assessed whether inclusion of radiotherapy in NCCPs correlates with radiotherapy machine availability, national income, and geographic region.


      A previously validated checklist was used to determine whether radiotherapy was included in each country’s NCCP. We applied the CCORE optimal radiotherapy utilisation model to the GLOBOCAN 2020 data to estimate the demand for radiotherapy and compared this to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Directory of Radiotherapy Centres (DIRAC) supply data, stratifying by income level and world region. World regions were defined according to the IAEA.


      Complete data (including GLOBOCAN 2020, DIRAC and NCCP) was available for 143 countries. Over half (55%, n = 79) included a radiotherapy-specific checklist item within the plan. Countries which included radiotherapy services planning in their NCCP had a higher median number of machines (1.68 vs 0.75 machines/1000 patients needing radiotherapy, p < 0.001). There was significant regional and income-level heterogeneity in the inclusion of radiotherapy-related items in NCCPs. Low-income and Asia-Pacific countries were least likely to include radiation oncology services planning in their NCCP (p = 0.06 and p = 0.003, respectively). Few countries in the Asia-Pacific (18.6%) had a plan to develop or maintain radiation services, compared to 57% of countries in Europe.


      Only 55% of current NCCPs included any information regarding radiotherapy, below the GTFRCC’s target of 80%. Prioritisation of radiotherapy in NCCPs was correlated with radiotherapy machine availability. There was regional and income-level heterogeneity regarding the inclusion of specific radiotherapy checklist items in the NCCPs. Ongoing efforts are needed to promote the inclusion of radiotherapy in future iterations of NCCPs in order to improve global access to radiation treatment.


      No direct funding was used in this research.


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