Pediatric radiation oncology in Germany: a study of availability and application

Klin Padiatr. 2008 May-Jun;220(3):178-82. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1065325.


Background: Radiotherapy plays a pivotal role in many multimodal therapy concepts in pediatric oncology. However, the absolute number of irradiated children is estimated to be quite low. The aim of this study was to evaluate the availability and application of pediatric radiation oncology in Germany.

Method: In summer 2007, a standardized questionnaire was sent to all radiotherapy facilities in Germany. The questions regarded the structure of the departments, the number of irradiated children each year including the distribution of the different diagnoses, the number of curative treatments, inclusion in study trials, and existence of special contact persons for pediatric radiotherapy as well as technical aspects of irradiation of children.

Results: Answers to the questionnaires were obtained from 171 departments (77.4%). Of these, 67 (39%) stated to regularly treat children. These departments treated one to nine children in median each year (<5 children/year: 23 departments; >or=20 children: 15 departments). Most of these children suffered from brain tumors, Hodgkin's disease and acute lymphatic leukemia (ALL). Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy was the most frequent treatment technique; special techniques like intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) or brachytherapy were rare.

Conclusions: Due to quite low patient numbers treated in most radiotherapy facilities, individual experiences in pediatric radiation oncology can be assumed to be quite limited. As radiotherapy is part of multimodal therapy approaches in pediatric oncology and children treated with radiotherapy are at special risk for potential side effects, pediatric radiation oncology remains a sophisticated area. Therefore radiotherapy reference-institutions implemented by the therapy optimizing protocols are of fundamental importance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brachytherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Germany
  • Hodgkin Disease / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / radiotherapy
  • Radiation Oncology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Utilization Review / statistics & numerical data