From diagnosis to survivorship: An introduction to Radiation Oncology

An Introduction to Radiation Oncology: From Diagnosis to Survivorship

Research Team

Associate Prof. Michelle Leech, Assistant Professor Claire Poole, Discipline of Radiation Therapy, Dr. Silvia Gallagher, Trinity Online Services.


Trinity Online Services


Targeting Cancer, an Australian-based radiation oncology advocacy group.  We would also like to thank colleagues from the European Cancer Organisation, Human Health Campus of the International Atomic Energy Agency, The Irish Cancer Society and Mindworthy for their collaboration and support.  We would also like to acknowledge collaborationss with clinical colleagues from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada, University of Tübingen, Germany, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, United Kingdom, Academic Medical Centre, The Netherlands and the Midwestern Radiation Oncology Centre, Limerick.


Radiation therapy is indicated as part of management pathway in 50-60% of cancer patients.  However, barriers to access of radiation therapy not only include infrastructural and economic issues in parts of the world, but also lack of knowledge of the use of radiation therapy in the general public and by other allied health professionals.  This, coupled with many misconceptions about the safety and efficacy of radiation therapy result in its suboptimal use internationally. The aim of this project was to develop an intervention, in this case a massive open online course (MOOC) to provide accurate information on radiation thearapy to an international audience of patients, their families and other health care professionals.

What we did

An online learning platform was designed with a focus on ensuring a rich learning environment by situating the course through the story of patients and allowing opportunity for reflection, questions and discussion. The platform consisted of 39 steps-15 videos, 15 articles, 2 discussion fora, 6 multiple choice quizzes and 1 final exercise.  The material was developed by the core research team and delivered by them together with national and international experts in the field of oncology.  The personal stories of three former patients, who had been treated and cured with radiation therapy for head and neck and prostate cancers were also included.

Outcome and Impact

In total, 1,489 people signed up to the MOOC from 111 countries. In the post course evaluation survey, 97% stated that the course met or exceeded their expectations. 96% said the course provided them with new knowledge or skills. 65% have shared the knowledge they learned with other people and 51% have already applied what they learned. The course will run again on 21st January 2019.  Sign up for the course is available on FutureLearn