Brachytherapy Training Survey of Radiation Oncology Residents

Samuel R. Marcrom, Jenna M. Kahn, Lauren E. Colbert, Christopher M. Freese, Kaleigh N. Doke, Joanna C. Yang, Catheryn M. Yashar, Michael Luu, Mitchell Kamrava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Purpose: As brachytherapy utilization rates decline, we sought to evaluate the state of brachytherapy training during radiation oncology residency. Methods and Materials: US radiation oncology residents in the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology database were sent an online questionnaire regarding brachytherapy training. Survey questions addressed a wide array of topics, and responses were often given on a 1 to 5 Likert-type scale that reflected strength of opinion. Postgraduate year (PGY) 4/5 respondents’ answers were analyzed. Descriptive statistics were generated, and rank correlation analyses (Kendall's τ coefficient and Wilcoxon signed-rank test) were used for comparisons. Results: The survey was completed by 145 of 567 residents (62% being PGY4/5). Of PGY4/5 respondents, 96% (86 of 90) believed learning brachytherapy during residency was important, and 72% (65 of 90) felt their program valued brachytherapy training. Resident brachytherapy comfort varied by site, decreasing as follows: gynecologic, prostate, breast, skin. The current intracavitary 15-case minimum was believed adequate by most, but only a minority believed the 5-case interstitial minimum was adequate. Most respondents (59%) believed that caseload was the greatest barrier to achieving independence in brachytherapy. Significant support exists for American Brachytherapy Society training courses and on-the-job education to enhance training, but enthusiasm about pursuing brachytherapy fellowship training was low. Most respondents expressed confidence in developing a brachytherapy practice (54%); however, this was significantly lower than the rate of those confident in developing a stereotactic body radiation therapy/stereotactic radiosurgery program (97%) (P <.001). Furthermore, there was an association between aggregate number of brachytherapy cases performed and resident confidence in starting a brachytherapy practice (τ = 0.37; P <.001). Conclusions: Brachytherapy is an important component of residency training that is valued by residents and programs. Because caseload was the greatest perceived barrier in brachytherapy training, with confidence correlated with case volume, attempts should be made to expand opportunities for training experiences that are feasible to complete during residency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-560
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


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