Radiation Oncology Is Alive and Well
The Commission on Radiation Oncology serves as the focal point for all ACR activities related to this subspecialty.
Historically, the ACR has been involved with radiation oncology practice guidelines, technical standards, appropriateness criteria, and practice accreditation. Unlike other societies, the ACR and its commissions encourage members, including radiation oncologists, to comment on proposed guidelines and standards twice: once electronically before the AMCLC, and again during the proceedings of the AMCLC through their state chapter or specialty councilors.
The ACR has also been actively involved in the accreditation of radiation oncology practices for over 25 years. The program was initially developed as an extension of the Patterns of Care studies and is currently based on many radiation oncology standards and guidelines that have been debated and approved by the ACR Council. The accreditation process also incorporates elements from the ACR's radiation oncology appropriateness criteria panels. These efforts represent countless volunteer hours by radiation oncology ACR members, and we expect this work to continue. Currently, a proton therapy practice guideline and technical standard are being developed for 2013.
The radiation oncology accreditation program has also been boosted by the College's collaboration with the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) that began four years ago. Currently there are 357 accredited radiation oncology sites with an additional 119 sites under review. This includes all 33 Veterans Administration sites. The accreditation program also supplies an individual opportunity for Maintenance of Certification credit through the R-O PEER™ program.
In addition to the accreditation program, the commission provides radiation oncology-focused input to many ACR commissions, including government relations, economics, education, and physics. We also provide liaisons to the American Joint Committee on Cancer, the College of American Pathologists Cancer Committee, and the Council of Radiation Control Program Directors. We receive input during our monthly conference calls from the RTOG®, QRRO®, and the Council of Affiliated Regional Radiation Oncology Studies (CARROS). We also have provided input to ASTRO on its new publication Safety is No Accident, the long overdue replacement for Radiation Oncology in Integrated Cancer Management, nicknamed the "Blue Book."
Through our education committee, chaired by John Plastaras, MD, PhD, we have organized educational sessions at the last three ACR annual meetings on the ACR Appropriateness Criteria® and Radiation Safety and Radiation Oncology: Image Guided Radiation Therapy Symposium. Additionally, we are creating resources for radiation oncology/diagnostic radiology interfaces, comparing performance on the ACR-sponsored resident in-service exam with performance on the ABR exam, and exploring additional radiation oncology-focused opportunities at the ACR Education Center in Reston, Va.
We are actively working with Mark D. Murphey, MD, FACR, and his staff at the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology, the ACR successor to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology rad-path program. The commission hopes to assist in creating a one-week course for radiation oncology residents and practicing radiation oncologists that is modeled after the successful radiologic pathology course. We expect the first of these courses to debut in 2013.
The efforts of the ACR Commission on Radiation Oncology have not gone unnoticed. We have been approached by the Cogent Medicine editors — an online resource by physicians and scientists that provides research to aid in clinical decision making — for support to ensure the continuation of this important monthly radiation oncology resource. We are very excited regarding this additional opportunity to provide ongoing member benefits. Other collaboration exists with the American Brachytherapy Society, which has approached us to collaborate in the socio-economic arena.
With the support of the ACR and our commission, I am happy to report that the CARROS, which has the same status as a state chapter in the ACR Council, has received an influx of energetic leaders. Under the leadership of William Small Jr., MD, FACR, president, and D. Jeffrey Demanes, MD, FACR, president-elect, the chapter has been much more active than it has been in several years. It has focused recently on the recruitment of appropriate candidates for consideration of fellowship in the ACR and the passage of a resolution supporting the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors' model state regulations regarding the training required to be able to use electronic brachytherapy equipment and provide electronic brachytherapy services.
The commission's meetings and monthly conference calls provide an active forum for discussion of matters of interest to the entire radiation oncology community. With representation from all of the ACR's radiation oncology activities and many radiation oncology organizations outside the ACR, the commission continues to be actively engaged in the identification and development of products and services that provide added value for ACR's radiation oncology members.
By Albert L. Blumberg, MD, FACR
Chair, Commission on Radiation Oncology