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Improving low-dose radiation risk appraisal in medicine

This action should add clarity on detriment from new medical applications of ionising radiation in view of their fast deployment. This should include harmonised patient data collection from different disciplines and treatment approaches in order to enable deduction of the mechanisms leading to health detriment and to enable improved treatment. This should apply due consideration to double causation and peculiar conditions to medical procedures. This action should take into account the gap analysis performed by MELODI, EURADOS and EURAMED, and address the key issue of individual sensitivity and susceptibility to radiation. The proposal should include methods for radiation detriment appraisal with demonstrable shift from the current metrics. It should take due account of previous research that is cross-cutting with health and radiological protection. This data should include data collected from imaging procedures benefiting to the most sensitive, extensive and long lasting followed-up category of patients. It should also include data on most exposed medical staff as well as patients of nuclear medicine, including theranostics. It should also provide recommendations on radiological protection for the development of new applications of radiation in medical care, per category and per procedure. It should involve radiology and therapy equipment manufacturers or their associations, European associations of researchers in this field, organisations having a regulatory mandate for radiation protection research from Member States or EU bodies and universities and hospitals. It should also involve radioisotope developers and suppliers. Proposals in this topic should take into consideration risk communication and the ethics of medical applications.

At least 5% of the total action budget must be dedicated to Education and Training activities for PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and trainees supported through the action (see Conditions for the Call- Eligibility and admissibility conditions).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the Euratom Programme up to EUR 6.0 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Nowadays medical care extensively uses ionising radiation for diagnostic and therapy. Together with natural radiation, medical applications are the main contributor to the exposure of the European population to ionising radiation. The use of appropriate radioisotopes in nuclear medicine in diagnostic and therapy (theranostics) is progressing. The reinforced risk appraisal of medical exposure will reinforce consideration of benefits. It includes the selection of appropriate radioactive cytostatic compounds and the establishment of adequate controls of their discharges in water streams by selecting short-lived radioisotopes that take into account the protection of workers, carers and comforters, the public and the environment. These progresses will be faster if more certainty about overall detriment is available. Moreover, the medical sector is the best place to keep record of the overall health condition of patients. Thus, using data of patients in the medical sector together with radiation exposure records will improve knowledge. Previous funding efforts have launched collaboration between radiological protection specialists and medical doctors. It deserves further collaboration as results can be used for other exposure situations.

New applications of radiation in medical care will be able to use fast-track approval procedures thanks to the better appraisal of their possible health detriment. This action will improve risk assessment capabilities of the two main sources of radiation exposure of the European population through improved knowledge on internal exposure. In the long term, it will help controlling the discharge of cytostatic compounds in the environment.