Purpose: Radiotherapy is a rare indication in paediatric oncology, with 800 to 900 children in treatment per year in France. Child cancers represent approximately 1% of cancers in France and half occur before the age of 5 years. Paediatric radiation requires appropriate tools, local, time and specific training. In France, in 2015, 18 centres are accredited by the French National Cancer Institute (INCa) for this activity.
Material and methods: Survey conducted in February 2015 on the care of children (0 to 18 years) in radiotherapy departments in France. The survey was sent to the radiation oncologists involved in the 18 centres. The questions concerned the qualitative and quantitative aspect, medical and organizational aspects, and the involvement of assistant practitioners in the management of this activity.
Results: Seventeen centres responded. In 2014, 889 children under 18 were treated in radiotherapy departments. These departments are working together with one to four paediatric oncology departments. Regarding access to general anaesthesia: three centres perform one to seven treatment(s) under anaesthesia per year, three centres eight to ten treatments under anaesthesia per year, three centres ten to 24 treatments under anaesthesia per year and nine centres out of 17 use hypnosis techniques. In terms of human resources, in 2015, 29 radiation therapists have a paediatric radiotherapy activity. Involvement of assistant practitioners is growing and specific training are desired. Regarding treatment preparation and delivery, 13 centres have specific paediatric contentions, 14 of 16 centres employ radiation intensity modulated if dosimetry is more satisfying with 11 regularly to the craniospinal irradiation. Radiotherapy on moving areas with respiratory gating or hypofractionation is under developed.
Conclusion: Paediatric radiation therapy is a specific activity requiring a dedicated management, both in human, organizational, medical and scientific aspects.
Keywords: Adolescent; Anaesthesia; Anesthésie; Irradiation corporelle en totalité; Oncologie pédiatrique; Paediatric oncology; Pédiatrie; Radiation treatment; Radiotherapy; Radiothérapie; Teenager; Total body irradiation.
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