The role of medical physics in prostate cancer radiation therapy.

Medical physics, both as a scientific discipline and clinical service, hugely contributed and still contributes to the advances in the radiotherapy of prostate cancer. The traditional translational role in developing and safely implementing new technology and methods for better optimizing, delivering and monitoring the treatment is rapidly expanding to include new fields such as quantitative morphological and functional imaging and the possibility of individually predicting outcome and toxicity.

The pivotal position of medical physicists in treatment personalization probably represents the main challenge of current and next years and needs a gradual change of vision and training, without losing the traditional and fundamental role of physicists to guarantee a high quality of the treatment. The current focus issue is intended to cover traditional and new fields of investigation in prostate cancer radiation therapy with the aim to provide up-to-date reference material to medical physicists daily working to cure prostate cancer patients. The papers presented in this focus issue touch upon present and upcoming challenges that need to be met in order to further advance prostate cancer radiation therapy. We suggest that there is a smart future for medical physicists willing to perform research and innovate, while they continue to provide high-quality clinical service. However, physicists are increasingly expected to actively integrate their implicitly translational, flexible and high-level skills within multi-disciplinary teams including many clinical figures (first of all radiation oncologists) as well as scientists from other disciplines.

Physica medica : PM : an international journal devoted to the applications of physics to medicine and biology : official journal of the Italian Association of Biomedical Physics (AIFB). 2016 Apr 16 [Epub ahead of print]

Claudio Fiorino, Jan Seuntjens

Medical Physics, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy. Medical Physics, McGill University Health Centre, Cedars Cancer Centre, Montreal, Canada.