Patients' needs in proton therapy: A survey among ten European facilities

G C Mazzola, L Bergamaschi, C Pedone, M G Vincini, M Pepa, M Zaffaroni, S Volpe, B Rombi, J Doyen, P Fossati, K Haustermans, M Høyer, J A Langendijk, R Matute, E Orlandi, H Rylander, E G C Troost, R Orecchia, D Alterio, B A Jereczek-Fossa

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

3 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: The number of Proton Therapy (PT) facilities is still limited worldwide, and the access to treatment could be characterized by patients' logistic and economic challenges. Aim of the present survey is to assess the support provided to patients undergoing PT across Europe.

METHODS: Through a personnel contact, an online questionnaire (62 multiple-choice and open-ended questions) via Microsoft Forms was administered to 10 European PT centers. The questionnaire consisted of 62 questions divided into 6 sections: i) personal data; ii) general information on clinical activity; iii) fractionation, concurrent systemic treatments and technical aspects of PT facility; iv) indication to PT and reimbursement policies; v) economic and/ or logistic support to patients vi) participants agreement on statements related to the possible limitation of access to PT. A qualitative analysis was performed and reported.

RESULTS: From March to May 2022 all ten involved centers filled the survey. Nine centers treat from 100 to 500 patients per year. Paediatric patients accounted for 10-30%, 30-50% and 50-70% of the entire cohort for 7, 2 and 1 center, respectively. The most frequent tumours treated in adult population were brain tumours, sarcomas and head and neck carcinomas; in all centers, the mean duration of PT is longer than 3 weeks. In 80% of cases, the treatment reimbursement for PT is supplied by the respective country's Health National System (HNS). HNS also provides economic support to patients in 70% of centers, while logistic and meal support is provided in 20% and 40% of centers, respectively. PT facilities offer economic and/or logistic support in 90% of the cases. Logistic support for parents of pediatric patients is provided by HNS only in one-third of centers. Overall, 70% of respondents agree that geographic challenges could limit a patient's access to proton facilities and 60% believe that additional support should be given to patients referred for PT care.

CONCLUSIONS: Relevant differences exist among European countries in supporting patients referred to PT in their logistic and economic challenges. Further efforts should be made by HNSs and PT facilities to reduce the risk of inequities in access to cancer care with protons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100670
Pages (from-to)100670
JournalClinical and Translational Radiation Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


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