This paper describes the ongoing 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 2013 to August 2016, the Japanese Society for Radiation Oncology conducted a questionnaire based on the Japanese national structure survey of radiation oncology in 2012. 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 213 000 and 251 000, respectively. Additionally, the estimated cancer incidence was 865 238 cases with ~24.6% of all newly diagnosed patients being treated with radiation. The types and numbers of treatment devices actually used included linear accelerator (LINAC; n = 864), telecobalt (n = 0), Gamma Knife (n = 44), 60Co remote afterloading system (RALS; n = 23) and 192Ir RALS (n = 130). The LINAC system used dual-energy functions in 651 units, 3D conformal radiotherapy functions in 759 and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) functions in 466. There were 792 Japan Radiological Society/Japanese Society for Radiation Oncology-certified radiation oncologists, 1061.6 full-time equivalent (FTE) radiation oncologists, 2124.2 FTE radiotherapy technologists, 181.3 FTE medical physicists, 170.9 FTE radiotherapy quality managers and 841.5 FTE nurses. The frequency of IMRT use significantly increased during this time. In conclusion, the Japanese structure of radiation oncology has clearly improved in terms of equipment and utility although there was a shortage of personnel in 2012.
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