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War in Ukraine cancer care update: eCancer interviews the GCR and other members of the RT Task Force

As the war in Ukraine continues into its second year, Prof Richard Sullivan recently hosted Prof Pat Price and Darien Laird from the Global Coalition for Radiotherapy and Dr. Ruslan Zelinskyi, Ukrainian President for Medical Physicists and member of the GCR Radiotherapy Task Force, to discuss the effects of the war on radiotherapy treatment and the critical issues that could impact future use of radiation therapy. These special interviews are part of the eCancer series: "War in Ukraine: Critical issues that could impact future use of radiation therapy."

Zelinskyi shared positive developments, despite the ongoing attacks, including the recent liberation of parts of Ukraine territories leading to more safe working conditions in those regions. The recent attacks on the electrical grid in Ukraine (17 to date) have had a massive impact on providing medical treatment. But Zelinskyi says hospitals and centers have adapted to having backup generators in the event of future outages.


Zelinskyi continued by discussing the capacity challenges in Ukraine. More data collection is needed but the current assessment, according to Zelinskyi, is that “2022 saw a decrease in 7.8% radiologists, 7.3% in medical physicists, and 10% in radiotherapists compared with 2021.” Patient flow too has been impacted by a decrease of 11% (4,000 patients), some of whom may be receiving treatment in other countries, but there is a need for better data to make that determination.


Prof Pat Price, co-founder of the Global Coalition for Radiotherapy, praised the international radiotherapy community, saying “we’re just all completely in awe of how Ukraine has actually coped with this…being under attack and being under occupation, and then your infrastructure attacks. How you’ve kept going is just amazing, and a real testament to that commitment.”


Price noted the resiliency of patients as well. “I know the extreme lengths some patients have had to go and live in the hospital if they can’t get taxis or it is unsafe to travel. We hear stories of somebody having their radical treatment for lung cancer, and then going straight back to the front. It’s humbling.”


Darien Laird, Director of Communications for the GCR, continued the conversation by discussing the data collection that the GCR is collecting from Ukraine and the neighboring countries to gather knowledge on patients as the war continues and post-war efforts.


Watch the full eCancer’s interview here:

In addition, eCancer’s Special Network on Ukraine series recently hosted two other important interviews:

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