A national quality registry for radiotherapy data is now established in Sweden. It opens an array of new opportunities to investigate the results of different treatment methods, to monitor side effects over the long term and to compare the equipment and techniques used in Sweden’s clinics.
– The Swedish radiotherapy quality registry, as the new register is called, is statutory and the technological solutions are already installed in the hospitals. So the registry has been established and is ready to be filled with content, says Björn Zackrisson, who is chairman of the working group behind the quality registry and heads up development at the Swedish Testbed for Innovative Radiotherapy.
Nomenclature provides comparable data
The work shaping the new quality registry is part of the Swedish Testbed project “National Database Solution.” The project has also formulated standardized Swedish nomenclature for radiotherapy data. The nomenclature is essential for the registry to function since it provides physicians, researchers and others with a common language so that the data entered are referred to uniformly, which truly allows them to be used in comparisons of various types.
Now we can compare how different clinics plan and carry out treatments.
In the new database solution, data on the treatment of each patient are saved in a local quality database at the clinic where treatment is provided. Then these data can automatically be transferred to the national quality registry.
– We can also automatically transfer data to the diagnosis-specific quality registries that we have in Sweden. This means that we will be able to obtain a great deal more information from the diagnosis registries, simply because the hospitals can provide more data. This fall we plan to start this initiative with the prostate cancer registry, which will serve as the pilot project, says Björn Zackrisson.
Improved ability to monitor side effects
The information on radiation dose and volumes that is entered is not only important for how well health care succeeds in treating the tumor, but will also improve our ability to prevent side effects. When tumors are irradiated, it is important insofar as is possible to avoid damaging healthy organs.
– These data are of particular interest to the diagnosis-specific quality registries, which increasingly also monitor long-term side effects from treatments. For example, doctors using the breast cancer registry would be especially concerned about side effects involving the heart, says Björn Zackrisson.
– If we’re able to assess the impact of a smaller or larger dose to the heart on the side effect profile, we would be able to correlate a given treatment to an outcome with greater precision.
Read more about the testbed subproject National Database Solution