This report presents radiotherapy waiting times and activity data for 2017–18, from the Radiotherapy Waiting Times National Minimum Data Set Collection. In addition, data are presented for the previous collection years (covering the reference periods 2013–14 to 2017–18).

Interactive data is presented by collection year, on the:

  • number of courses
  • number of days  patients waited at the 50th and 90th percentiles
  • proportion of courses where emergency radiotherapy treatment began either on the same or the next day.

For each of these, data is disaggregated by sex, and by:

  • age group
  • intent of treatment
  • principal diagnosis.

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy uses radiation directed at a localised area to kill or damage cancer cells. It is a well-established, effective and safe way to treat cancer and a small number of other conditions. There are several types of radiotherapy. This report focuses on megavoltage external beam radiotherapy delivered by linear accelerator machines.

Radiotherapy is a highly specialised treatment that radiation therapists deliver, supervised by a radiation oncologist (in consultation with a multidisciplinary team including other medical and allied health practitioners), and requiring specialised equipment. Radiotherapy may be used on its own or in conjunction with other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. About half of all patients with cancer would benefit from external beam radiotherapy (RANZCR 2015).

Radiotherapy is usually given as one outpatient treatment or a series of outpatient treatments over a defined period, though under some circumstances patients may be treated as admitted patients.