We evaluated the evolving structure of radiation oncology in Japan in terms of equipment, personnel, patient load and geographic distribution to identify and overcome any existing limitations. From March 2012 to August 2015, the Japanese Society for Radiation Oncology conducted a questionnaire based on the Japanese national structure survey of radiation oncology in 2011. Data were analyzed based on the institutional stratification by the annual number of new patients treated with radiotherapy per institution. The estimated annual numbers of new and total (new plus repeat) patients treated with radiation were 211 000 and 250 000, respectively. Additionally, the estimated cancer incidence was 851 537 cases with approximately 24.8% of all newly diagnosed patients being treated with radiation. The types and numbers of treatment devices actually used included linear accelerator (LINAC; n = 836), telecobalt (n = 3), Gamma Knife (n = 46), 60Co remote afterloading system (RALS; n = 24), and 192Ir RALS (n = 125). The LINAC system used dual-energy functions in 619 units, 3D conformal radiotherapy functions in 719 and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) functions in 412. There were 756 JRS or JASTRO-certified radiation oncologists, 1018.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) radiation oncologists, 2026.7 FTE radiotherapy technologists, 149.1 FTE medical physicists, 141.5 FTE radiotherapy quality managers and 716.3 FTE nurses. The frequency of IMRT use significantly increased during this time. To conclude, although there was a shortage of personnel in 2011, the Japanese structure of radiation oncology has clearly improved in terms of equipment and utility.
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