Latin American and Caribbean Medical Physicists Receive Training in Cuba on the New International Code of Practice for the Dosimetry of Small Fields

Participants took part in practical sessions, hosted by the National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology (INOR). (Photo: RECNUC)

International Atomic Energy Agency, 

Cancer is becoming an increasing burden in the Latin American and the Caribbean region[1]. IAEA training courses in the area of human health contribute to improving diagnostic and treatment procedures that make use of nuclear technologies.

A training course to strengthen capacity in the Latin American and Caribbean regions took place from 19 – 23 October 2017 in La Havana, Cuba. 36 medical physicists participated in the course from 16 different countries[2]. The course, organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) and the Agency for Nuclear Energy and Advanced Technologies (AENTA) in Cuba, aimed to improve the quality, safety and effectiveness of modern radiotherapy techniques for the ultimate benefit of cancer patients. The overall objective of this course was to enhance knowledge in the practice of radiotherapy using small fields based on the new IAEA / American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Code of Practice for small field dosimetry. The ‘Dosimetry of Small Static Fields Used in External Beam Radiotherapy: An International Code of Practice for Reference and Relative Dose Determination Prepared Jointly by the IAEA and AAPM’ was published in November 2017 and is freely downloadable from the IAEA website.

The training course was implemented in collaboration with the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation[3] and the IAEA Division of Human Health (NAHU) under the Regional Cooperation Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL). One of the objectives of ARCAL is to improve the quantity and quality of existing human resources to advance nuclear technologies (in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer), under good practice conditions and with adequate radiation protection standards. An important project output is the Strengthened Strategy for Information Education and Communication (IEC) on the use of new technologies for diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the region.

Over 35 medical physicists participated in the course from 16 different countries. (Photo: RUCNEC)

The training course was opened by Daniel Lopez Aldama, President of AENTA; Teresa Romero, Director of the Cancer Control Section (MINSAP); and Fernando Garcia Yip of the Instituto Nacional de Oncologia y Radiobiologia (INOR), who was the local coordinator of the event. Practical sessions were hosted by the National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology (INOR). Participants also had the opportunity to discuss the practical activities and their underlying physics with the course lecturers. In addition, the course included lectures, class discussions, an assessment and a course evaluation. Other topics addressed included calculation algorithms for treatment planning systems and uncertainties in the therapeutic applications of small photon fields. More than 85% of the participants passed the final test and the feedback from most participants was very positive.

The knowledge acquired by the course participants will form the basis for applying the new Code of Practice in their home countries, thereby ultimately contributing to improved cancer care and harmonized dosimetry.

This training course was the first to be held in Spanish; similar courses were conducted, under different IAEA projects, in 2015 in Argonne, USA and in 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. More courses are planned in the future such as a course to be held in April 2018 at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics ICTP. Forthcoming courses will also take into consideration the importance of tailoring the training to the needs of the Member States in terms of language.

[1] GLOBOCAN 2012,[2] Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela are participating in this regional ARCAL Project.[3] RLA6077: ‘Taking Strategic Actions to Strengthen Capacities in the Diagnostics and Treatment of Cancer with a Comprehensive Approach’ (ARCAL CXLVIII)

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