Biological, physical and clinical aspects of treatment of cancer with ionising radiation

The research within our LUMC departments is conducted within departmental research programmes. The research programme below is embedded within the department of Medical Oncology.

Aim and focus

The department of Radiation Oncology is involved in clinical and translational research, aimed at the improvement of cancer treatment and quality of life. The focus is primarily on initiation of and participation in large national and international clinical trials, especially on rectal and endometrial cancer, and translational research and quality of life studies within the scope of these trials, such as studies on new molecular prognostic factors, decision making, long-term health related quality of life and long-term adverse effects. Other major topics within the area of long-term adverse effects are Hodgkin Lymphoma and Proton beam irradiation, and palliative radiotherapy and care. The department also supports TRFs from other departments for which LUMC is national or regional referral centre, such as cutaneous lymphomas, choroidal melanomas, and bone and soft tissue sarcomas.

Position in international context

The principal investigators are initiators and coordinators of several national and international studies, such as the International rectal cancer study (TME study), the four PORTEC-trials on endometrial carcinoma, and the EORTC Hodgkin trials. The department has played a coordinating role in several other large national randomized trials. The investigators have leading roles in national and international organisations and networks, especially Marijnen has roles in national (NVRO Concilium and Scientific Committee and Dutch Cancer Society) and international (ESTRO board and KWF Committee on Clinical Studies) oncology organisations, and in national (DCCG) and international rectal cancer groups; and Creutzberg is involved in national (DGOG, LPRGT) and international (IGCS, ESGO Council, GCIG) gynaecologic cancer groups. The investigators have received major grants for further research. There is active participation in a nationwide late outcome network after treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, and in a strong collatoration with Erasmus University Oncology Center and Delft University in the development of a proton irradiation facility for treatment and research.

Content / highlights / achievements

The scientific production from the rectal carcinoma trial has been very successful. The preoperative radiation scheme has become the standard for rectal carcinoma and many side studies on decision making, translational research and radiation therapy improvement have been done. The PORTEC trials have defined the role of radiation therapy in endometrial cancer and have had major impact on international treatment guidelines. The PORTEC-3 trial has attracted international participation from major research groups. Late outcome, cancer survivorship and quality of life, and translational research studies have evolved from these trials. The 4th PORTEC trial has been started. The bone metastasis trial has made ‘1x8 Gy’ the treatment of choice. Limits of minimal radiotherapy have been set for Hodgkin lymphoma. These trials have led to many side studies, major publications and theses.

Future themes

  • Translational research studies: rectal and endometrial cancer 
  • Decision making and communication studies: rectal cancer 
  • Survivorship and quality of life studies: rectal and endometrial cancer; proton irradiation; Hodgkin Lymphoma 
  • Organ preservation studies: rectal cancer; choroidal melanoma; development of proton treatment of ocular melanomas. 
  • New treatment approaches: rectal and endometrial cancer; proton irradiation 
  • Palliative care and palliative radiotherapy studies

Cohesion within LUMC

The research is conducted in strong collaboration with the departments of Surgical Oncology, Pathology, Biostatistics, Medical Decision making, Gynaecologic Oncology, Radiology, Ophtalmology, Medical Oncology, and Haematology.