The Spanish Society of Radiation Oncology (SEOR), the European Society of Radiation Oncology (ESTRO) and Madrid Convention Bureau (MCB) continue to make the value of radiotherapy more visible coinciding with the ESTRO Annual Congress taking place in Madrid between August 27-31. The launch, last year, of the inforadioterapia.com website and the ‘Invisible Radiotherapy’ campaign, developed by SEOR in recent months on its digital channels, are all part of a very ambitious project that attracted the interest of ESTRO in Madrid as the venue of the European Congress of Radiation Oncology.
Dr. Jorge Contreras, president of SEOR, stated that “it is an honor for professionals in radiation oncology that ESTRO has selected Madrid as the venue for its next congress and, above all, because it does so thanks to a project like this, that aims to improve quality information on a technique, radiotherapy, that can increase survival rates and quality of life of many patients with cancer”.
Over the last year, the inforadioterapia.com website, coordinated by SEOR and Dr. Natalia Carballo, head of the Radiation Oncology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, has been providing information about what radiotherapy is, why it is important, what the benefits of this technique are for the survival and quality of life of cancer patients or how to care for the patients’ skin during the treatment. In addition, the website also gives the testimonials of real patients, as one of the main objectives of the website is to share the experiences of patients and to bring radiotherapy closer to the general public.
"We have found that there is a lack of information about radiotherapy and there is a lot of confusion about the term ‘radiotherapy’ itself, which is often confused with ‘radiology’", explains Dr. Carballo. That, together with the realization that there is a lot of negative information on the subject, due to the fact that "the ratio of linear accelerators per inhabitant in Spain is one of the lowest in the European Union", encouraged them to launch the website for the public, with information that is verified and provided by official sources.
A legacy of ESTRO for the public
But the website is just one of the projects that has emerged from the initiative of ESTRO. For 2021, the European society has wished to associate the choice of the city that hosts its annual congress with a legacy project for the inhabitants of the city in question. The idea is that the residents of the city selected will receive a "gift" in the form of a legacy from the association in exchange for having "lent" the city to them.
Thus, the SEOR has launched a communication campaign on its digital information channels, in which it highlights the fundamental role of radiotherapy in the treatment and survival of cancer patients. This initiative, called “Invisible Radiotherapy. The Footprint of Radiation Oncology”, includes a series of videos that include the vision of medical professionals who address the past, present and future of the specialty, as well as the personal testimony of survivors of the disease, like journalists Iñaki Gabilondo and Victoria Prego, and other, anonymous people, who want to contribute by sharing their own experiences and help others by publishing them on SEOR's social networks.
The popular magician Jorge Blass has also collaborated with a video where he performs a magic trick. With the phrase "just because you cannot see it, does not mean it does not exist", Blass uses social networks to encourage people to spread the values of radiation oncology, "a specialty that saves lives and is also invisible". All the videos in the campaign can be found at https://inforadioterapia.com/deja-tu-huella/.
The candidacy of Madrid to host the ESTRO Congress was promoted by the Department of Tourism of the Madrid City Council, through the Madrid Convention Bureau. Although the MCB has previously launched legacy programs for some of the congresses the capital city has hosted, in the case of ESTRO 2021, it is the first time that the action proposal spans from well before the congress is held until long after its completion.