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Volume 20, Number 2, 2015

Decentralisation of radiation therapy. Is it possible and beneficial to patients? Experience of the first 5 years of a satellite radiotherapy unit in the province of Tarragona, Spain

Meritxell Arenas, David Gomez, Sebastià Sabater, Angeles Rovirosa, Albert Biete, Jordi Colomer



The concept of satellite radiotherapy originates in countries whose populations are largely dispersed in order to treat homogenously the population by a unique fixed team.


This report describes the creation and management of a satellite radiotherapy unit in Spain (RUTE-Radiotherapy Unit, Terres de l’Ebre). It is managed by the Radiation Oncology Department at Hospital Universitari Sant Joan de Reus. We report the benefit gained in the comfort of patients and the economic benefit gained by reducing the expense of transport for the health care system.

Materials and methods

RUTE is equipped with a linear accelerator. A team of 10 physicians, specialised in different oncology pathologies, travel to RUTE on a rotational basis from the main Radiation Oncology Department. Simulation and planning of treatment is managed at the Radiation Oncology Department in Reus. Patients from RUTE only have to visit the centre in Reus once throughout the treatment process.


Since August 2008, 1500 patients have completed treatment in the satellite unit. The implementation of RUTE has greatly improved the comfort of patients and along with that, there have been important savings in transport costs to the regional health care system.


Despite the high technological requirements of our speciality, decentralising radiotherapy is feasible. We can guarantee the highest standards of treatment with no differences from attending the main centre. It implies a clear benefit for the comfort of the patients and an economic benefit by decreasing transport costs.

Signature: Rep Pract Oncol Radiother, 2015; 20(2) : 141-144

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