Jean - Claude Horiot
Past ROG Chairs and Secretaries
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE EORTC RADIATION ONCOLOGY GROUP
Jean - Claude Horiot
The EORTC was created in 1962 by Henri Tagnon and a few pioneers who foresaw the need for establishing a European research structure to develop cooperative clinical research. It was named GECA: Groupe Europeen de Chimiotherapie Anti-cancereuse which in 1968 became the EORTC (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer).
Radiation therapy was represented from the very beginning within the Radio-Chemotherapy Group which conducted the first Hodgkin trials (H1 to H3). In 1973, this group split in two groups (Hodgkin & Non-HodgkinGroup which was later renamed Lymphoma Group) and for the first time our group became an individual entity: Radiotherapy Group
For several years both groups maintained close ties, having their meetings in the same place on two consecutive days. The founders were Maurice Tubiana, Klaas Breur and Jacques Henry. Later on a single day was no longer sufficient for the Radiotherapy Group and the first independent meeting of this group was held on January 10, 1975 in Creteil (France). The first officers were Claude Lalanne, Jean-Claude Goffin, Alain Laugier and Jean-Claude Horiot.
The first protocol was activated in 1978 (V-22781, pelvic radiotherapy versus extended fields to para-aortic nodes in cervix cancers), soon followed by many others. Then under the guidance of Emmanuel van der Schueren, Jean-Claude Horiot and Walter van den Bogaert, the EORTC Radiotherapy Group became the European leader in altered fractionation schemes (mostly in head and neck cancers) and in protocols addressing radio-sensitizer issues.
The development of quality assurance in clinical research trials was one of its main achievements at a time when very few thought that such an ambitious venture was feasible. Karl-Axel Johansson, Emmanuel van der Schueren, Jean-Claude Horiot, Guido Garavaglia, Harry Bartelink, Jacques Bernier, Bernard Davies and many others soon demonstrated the absolute need for quality assurance and the immediate benefit shown in improved outcome . A number of methods for carrying out radiotherapy quality assurance (site visits, radiation physics beam calibration checks, mailed thermo-luminescent dosimetry, equipment checks, treatment planning systems, anatomical phantom, dummy run cases on CT slices) were already implemented in the early eighties and later became the reference for research and standard practice within and outside the Radiotherapy Group.
The Radiotherapy Group was and has remained one of the most active in developing joint research ventures with other EORTC groups; in particular with the Urology, Gastro-Intestinal, Brain Tumor and Breast Groups, leading to pivotal trials that contributed to change practice. Several "mega-trials" (above 1000 patients) were implemented in the nineties of which the largest was the "Boost versus no Boost" study in the conservative management of breast cancer with 5569 patients.
For the past six years, the Radiotherapy Group has remained among the first three most active groups of the EORTC. In fact, more than 3500 patients have been entered by this group over the past three years, far more than any other EORTC group. Under the last three Presidents (Harry Bartelink, Michel Bolla and Volker Budach), the group has extended its membership, maintained its productivity and restructured its meetings in parallel sessions for disease-oriented working parties. There have been major achievements and publications that have changed clinical practice, such as the benefit of combined chemo- radiotherapy in head/neck and anal cancers, combined hormonal treatment and radiotherapy in high risk prostate cancer and recently the benefit of the boost in the conservative management of early breast cancer.
The results of pivotal trials will soon be known regarding the role of chemo-radiotherapy in T3-T4 rectal cancer, the need for radiotherapy in pT3 prostate cancer after prostatectomy and the use of Temozolomide and radiation in glioblastoma.
Meanwhile, many other questions of interest are being evaluated including high precision radiotherapy such as conformal radiotherapy (CRT) and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).