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Clin Transl Oncol. 2019 Apr 3. doi: 10.1007/s12094-019-02095-x. [Epub ahead of print]

Are there enough radiation oncologists to lead the new Spanish radiotherapy?

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital Ruber Internacional, Calle de la Masó,38, 28034, Madrid, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital Universitari Sant Joan de Reus, Avinguda del Doctor Josep Laporte, 2, 43204, Reus, Tarragona, Spain.
Universidad Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Tarragona, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital, Universitario San Roque, Calle Dolores de la Rocha, 5, 35001, Las Palmas, Spain.
Universidad Fernando Pessoa Canarias, Las Palmas, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, ERESA Hospital General Universitario, Calle de la Casa Misericordia 12, 46014, Valencia, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital del Mar, Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 25, 29, 08003, Barcelona, Spain.
Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital, Universitario y Politécnico La Fe, Avda de Fernando Abril Martorell 106, 46026, Valencia, Spain.
Instituto Catalán de Oncología, Avda de la Gran Vía de Hospitalet, 199-203, Hospitalet De Llobregat, 08908, Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital Universitario de Badajoz, Avenida de Elvas s/n, 06080, Badajoz, Spain.
Hospital Clinico Universitario de Santiago de Compostela, C/Choupana s/n 15706, Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital, Universitario y Politécnico La Fe, Avda Fernando Abril Martorell, 106, 46026, Valencia, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital Regional de Málaga, Avda Carlos Haya, 29006, Malaga, Spain.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Consorcio Hospitalario Provincial de Castellón, Avda del Dr Clará 19, 12002, Castellón, Spain.



Radiation oncology services in Spain are undergoing a process of technical modernization, but-in a context of increasing demand by an ageing population-it is unclear whether there are enough radiation oncologists to staff the newly equipped units. This study aims to assess the number of specialists working in radiation oncology services in Spain relative to current and future needs.


In the second half of 2017, the Commission on Infrastructures of the Spanish Society for Radiation Oncology (SEOR) sent a questionnaire on radiation oncology staff to the heads of all 122 public (n = 76, 62%) and private (n = 46, 38%) radiation oncology services in Spain. Data collected were the number of professionals, their position, and their year of birth for specialists and residents in each service. In the descriptive analysis, for continuous variables we calculated means, standard deviations and ranges for each Spanish region and work post. For qualitative variables, we constructed frequency tables. All analyses were performed with R statistical software, version 3.5.1.


The survey response rate was 100% among service heads across all 122 centers. The total number of radiation oncologists working in these centers is 721, or 15.4 per million population, with considerable variations between regions. Given the national recommendations to have 20 radiation oncologists per million population, there is currently a deficit of 204 specialists. If the 163 upcoming retirements are also taken into account, there will be 367 fewer radiation oncologists than required to meet the 25% increase in indications for radiotherapy projected for 2025.


The classic model for calculating staff needs based on the number of treatments is outdated, and recommendations should be revised to reflect the current reality. A new model should integrate the most complex technological advances and emerging plans in radiotherapy, without neglecting the other activities carried out in radiation oncology services that are not directly linked to patient care.


Radiation oncologists; Radiotherapy staffing needs; Spain


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