Advances in the radiotherapy of skin cancer

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Introduction The main purpose of the thesis is to highlight the important role that radiotherapy has in the treatment of skin cancer. This is critically important in Australia which has the highest burden of skin cancer in the world. Methodology Twenty four projects that led to publication over a ten year period by the candidate were selected. They were selected because they were on the subject of radiotherapy of skin cancer and represented a new advance. An essay was written linking them together so as to highlight the findings of each individual project and to investigate and discover common underlying themes. Results The quality of the projects is high as they have been published in peer reviewed journals with respectable impact factors. A number have been significantly cited in subsequent articles and open access publications have received significant hits. Most have been published in journals on the ERA 2012 Journal List. The specific reasons why each project was investigated included: •the desire for self audit •to find an association •to investigate unexpected findings •to create much needed guidelines •to compare treatments and techniques. The specific reasons for publishing included: •to inform on unexpected results •to inform on expected but never before published results •to suggest new guidelines •to disseminate knowledge on new techniques •to invite collaboration in a specific trial •as part of a controversy. The linking essay comprises six chapters that deals with advances: •on the molecular level •in radiation techniques •in clinical areas •in quality assurance •that suggest new guidelines Significant underlying themes found were: •the need for communication •the need for personalized treatment of skin cancer with radiotherapy •the importance of clinical vigilance. Conclusions This thesis shows that radiotherapy in skin cancer has a real place. It describes specifically how the selected projects led to significant advances in the radiation treatment of skin. The thesis provides a significant resource for future health workers. It also provides a platform for further radiotherapy research into improving skin cancer patient outcomes. This thesis will hopefully be a stimulus to other Australian radiation oncologists to engage in this important subspecialty.
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