Radiation therapy for benign diseases: Patterns of care study in Germany

M. Heinrich Seegenschmiedt*, Alexander Katalinic, Hans Bruno Makoski, Wulf Haase, Günther Gademann, Eckhard Hassenstein

*Corresponding author for this work
59 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Radiotherapy of benign diseases is controversial and rarely applied in Anglo-American countries, whereas in other parts of the world it is commonly practiced for several benign disorders. Similar to a European survey, a patterns of care study was conducted in Germany.Method: Using a mailed questionnaire, radiation equipment, treatment indication, number of patients, and treatment concepts were assessed in 1994, 1995, and 1996 in 134 of 152 German institutions (88%): 22 in East and 112 in West Germany; 30 in university hospitals and 104 in community hospitals. Average numbers of each institution and of all institutions were analyzed for frequencies and ratios between regions and among institutions. Radiation treatment concepts were analyzed.Results: A mean of 2 (range 1-7) megavoltage and 1.4 (range 0-4) orthovoltage units were available per institution; 32 institutions (24%) had no orthovoltage equipment. A mean of 20,082 patients were treated annually: 456 (2%) for inflammatory diseases (221 hidradenitis, 78 local infection, 23 parotitis; 134 not specified) 12,600 (63%) for degenerative diseases (2711 peritendinitis humeroscapularis, 1555 epicondylitis humeri; 1382 plantar/dorsal heel spur; 2434 degenerative osteoarthritis; 4518 not specified); 927 (5%) for hyperproliferative diseases (146 Dupuytren's contracture, 382 keloids; 155 Peyronie's disease; 244 not specified); 1210 (6%) for functional disorders (853 Graves' orbitopathy; 357 not specified); and 4889 (24%) for other disorders (e.g., 3680 heterotopic ossification prophylaxis). In univariate analysis, there were geographic (West vs. East Germany) differences in using radiation therapy (RT) for inflammatory and degenerative disorders, and institutional differences (university versus community hospitals) in using RT for hyperproliferative and functional disorders (p < 0.05). The prescribed dose concepts were mostly in the low dose range, <10 Gy but varied widely and inconsistently within geographic regions and institutions.Conclusion: Radiation therapy is a well-accepted and frequently practiced treatment for several benign diseases in Germany; however, there are significant geographic and institutional differences. As the number of orthovoltage units decreases, an increasing patient load will demand more megavoltage units, which may compromise the cost-effectiveness of this treatment. Only 4% of all clinical institutions have been involved in controlled clinical trials. To maintain a high level of RT service to other disciplines, RT treatment guidelines, quality control, and continuing medical education are required. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)195-202
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2000


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