Toward Data-Driven Radiation Oncology Using Standardized Terminology as a Starting Point: Cross-sectional Study.

Cihoric, Nikola; Vlaskou Badra, Eugenia; Stenger-Weisser, Anna; Aebersold, Daniel M.; Pavic, Matea (2022). Toward Data-Driven Radiation Oncology Using Standardized Terminology as a Starting Point: Cross-sectional Study. JMIR formative research, 6(1), e27550. JMIR Publications 10.2196/27550

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The inability to seamlessly exchange information across radiation therapy ecosystems is a limiting factor in the pursuit of data-driven clinical practice. The implementation of semantic interoperability is a prerequisite for achieving the full capacity of the latest developments in personalized and precision medicine, such as mathematical modeling, advanced algorithmic information processing, and artificial intelligence approaches.


This study aims to evaluate the state of terminology resources (TRs) dedicated to radiation oncology as a prerequisite for an oncology semantic ecosystem. The goal of this cross-sectional analysis is to quantify the state of the art in radiation therapy specific terminology.


The Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) was searched for the following terms: radio oncology, radiation oncology, radiation therapy, and radiotherapy. We extracted 6509 unique concepts for further analysis. We conducted a quantitative analysis of available source vocabularies (SVs) and analyzed all UMLS SVs according to the route source, number, author, location of authors, license type, the lexical density of TR, and semantic types. Descriptive data are presented as numbers and percentages.


The concepts were distributed across 35 SVs. The median number of unique concepts per SV was 5 (range 1-5479), with 14% (5/35) of SVs containing 94.59% (6157/6509) of the concepts. The SVs were created by 29 authors, predominantly legal entities registered in the United States (25/35, 71%), followed by international organizations (6/35, 17%), legal entities registered in Australia (2/35, 6%), and the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with 3% (1/35) of authors each. Of the total 35 SVs, 16 (46%) did not have any restrictions on use, whereas for 19 (54%) of SVs, some level of restriction was required. Overall, 57% (20/35) of SVs were updated within the last 5 years. All concepts found within radiation therapy SVs were labeled with one of the 29 semantic types represented within UMLS. After removing the stop words, the total number of words for all SVs together was 56,219, with a median of 25 unique words per SV (range 3-50,682). The total number of unique words in all SVs was 1048, with a median of 19 unique words per vocabulary (range 3-406). The lexical density for all concepts within all SVs was 0 (0.02 rounded to 2 decimals). Median lexical density per unique SV was 0.7 (range 0.0-1.0). There were no dedicated radiation therapy SVs.


We did not identify any dedicated TRs for radiation oncology. Current terminologies are not sufficient to cover the need of modern radiation oncology practice and research. To achieve a sufficient level of interoperability, of the creation of a new, standardized, universally accepted TR dedicated to modern radiation therapy is required.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Radiation Oncology

UniBE Contributor:

Cihoric, Nikola, Stenger, Anna Charlotte, Aebersold, Daniel Matthias


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




JMIR Publications




Basak Ginsbourger

Date Deposited:

16 Feb 2022 10:24

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:05

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

eHealth informatics lexical analysis medical informatics oncology radiation oncology semantic interoperability terminology




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