Future forum, Hobart, October 29, 2017: examining the role of medical physics in cancer research
This commentary reports on a forum held in October 2017 in Hobart, Tasmania, attended by 20 Australasian medical physicists, to consider the future role of medical physics, as well as non-medical physics and allied disciplines, in oncology research. Attendees identified important areas of oncology research which physicists can be contributing to, with these evaluated in the context of a set of "Provocative Questions" recently generated by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. Primary perceived barriers to participation in research were identified, including a "lack of knowledge of cancer science", together with potential solutions. Mechanisms were considered for engagement with the broader scientific community, consumers, advocates and policy makers. In considering future opportunities in oncology research for medical physicists, it was noted that a professional need to focus on the safety and accuracy of current treatments applied to patients, encouraging risk-aversion, is somewhat in competition with the role of physical scientists in the exploration and discovery of new concepts and understandings.