Dutch doctors using fewer radiation sessions to treat cancer patients since Covid
Some cancer patients in the Netherlands can now get their treatment with fewer trips to the hospital. During the coronavirus pandemic, oncologists shortened the treatments to protect patients against Covid-19 by limiting the number of hospital visits. But the shorter treatments proved just as effective, AD reports. Patients still get the same total dose of radiation, for example, but higher doses per individual treatment.
As a result, some women with breast cancer can undergo their total radiation treatment in five sessions instead of 15 to 20. And men with low- and medium-risk prostate cancer only have to go to the hospital five times, instead of about 35 times. Some bladder cancer- or melanoma patients receiving immunotherapy now have to go to the hospital every six weeks instead of every three weeks.
Doctors assess per patient whether they can get the shorter trajectory. That depends on the type of cancer, the patient’s condition, and the hospital’s equipment. The doctors only adjust the cancer treatments after studies have shown that it is justified to do so, the oncologists stressed.
The shortened treatment trajectories have not yet affected the waiting lists. Due to the ongoing pandemic and the tight labor market, hospitals are still facing significant staff shortages.