The Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO, in Catalan) is a public institute founded in 1995 by the Ministry of Health of Catalonia (one of the 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain). Following the Comprehensive Cancer Centre model, defined by the European Organisation of Cancer Institutes, ICO takes a monographic and comprehensive approach to cancer, covering prevention, care specialist training and research. To date, it is the only centre of its kind in the whole of Spain.
The institute has one of the biggest technological infrastructures in Southern Europe (10 linear accelerators). It has a pioneer program in brachytherapy and provides the only public radiosurgery in Catalonia. ICO is the oncological hospital of reference for 40% of the adult population in Catalonia (2.5 million people) and employs a staff of around one thousand professionals. It has 168 oncohematological hospital beds, and admits 7400 patients and performs 18,000 first consultations per year.
ICO is an international expert center for radiation oncology including brachytherapy. The department of Radiation Oncology utilizes the most extensive portfolio of radiotherapy devices of all hospitals in Spain and employs a staff of over 59 cancer-care professionals, including radiation oncologists, technologists, nurses, and medical physicists. Academic and clinical research plays a major role in the division.
3 physicians, 1 physicist, 2 technologists, 8 nurses, and 2 nursing assistants are fully dedicated to brachytherapy and treat about 550 patients per year with HDR, PDR and LDR brachytherapy. The main indications for brachytherapy treatment are breast, gynecological and prostate cancer, but also other indications like ocular, rectal, skin and H&N cancer are treated with brachytherapy. The brachytherapy operating theatre includes all imaging modalities, to allow for convenient brachytherapy procedures to patients.
The ICO brachytherapy staff are involved in organizing ESTRO brachytherapy teaching courses. The members of the brachytherapy staff are internationally renowned researchers and presenters at international meetings and conferences. Their department is a designated Educational Center, and besides receiving people for training visits, it has also hosted several workshops for APBI brachytherapy.
Dr. Cristina Gutiérrez: ‘APBI and the advantages of Brachytherapy’
Ferran Guedea: ‘Views on Brachytherapy’