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Principal Investigator

W. (Wilma) Heemsbergen, PhD

  • Department
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Focus area
  • Development of acute and late toxicities, toxicity scoring systems, dose-effect relationships radiation toxicity, dose-escalation and hypo-fractionation, radiation-induced secondary cancers, prostate cancer outcome research, head & neck outcome research, patient setup verification



I am a clinical epidemiologist with >20 year research experience in the field of radiation oncology. I work in close collaboration with radiation oncologists, medical physicists, and (PhD) students. Currently, I am involved in research projects concerning radiation-induced secondary cancers, hypo-fractionation in prostate cancer, toxicity and outcomes after radiotherapy for Head & Neck cancer.

Field(s) of expertise

  • Development of acute and late toxicities 
  • Toxicity scoring systems
  • Dose-effect relationships radiation toxicity
  • Dose-escalation and hypo-fractionation
  • Radiation-induced secondary cancers
  • Prostate cancer outcome research
  • Head & neck outcome research
  • Patient setup verification

Education and career


  • 2017 - current: researcher/ epidemiologist (academic staff) at the Dept. of Radiation Oncology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam
  • 1998 - 2016: researcher/ epidemiologist (academic staff) at the Dept. of Radiation Oncology, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital - The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
  • 2009 - 2016: Clinical epidemiologist (academic staff) at the Dept. of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital - The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam1995 - 1998: Clinical Research Associate at VSM Geneesmiddelen, Alkmaar


  • 2008: PhD degree obtained at the Medical Faculty of the University of Amsterdam. Thesis ‘Radiation treatment in prostate cancer: balancing between tumor control and toxicity’
  • 2008: Registered as a certified Medical-Biological Researcher in the field of Epidemiology (senior epidemiologist) by the SMBWO (committee for post-doctoral Medical-Biological Research Training) 
  • 1994: MSc degree, Biomedical Health Sciences (field of Epidemiology), Radboud University Nijmegen. Thesis ‘A comparison of low molecular weight heparin with unfractioned heparin in the prophylaxis of reocclusion after PTA in the lower limb: a randomized clinical trial’
  • Research internship at the Dept. of Clinical Epidemiology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam. Selection of attended courses: Good Clinical Practice (GCP) training , Joint Modeling (NiHES), Clinical Trials and Drug Risks Assessment (NIHES), Analysis of Repeated Measurements (NIHES), Systematic Reviews (EMGO), Introduction to Clinical and Fundamental Oncology (NVO), Statistical analyses in SPSS (SPSS training), Programming in SAS (SAS education)


Co-author of >60 publications in peer-reviewed journals (h-index 30). See list of publications

Recent publications (2018-june 2019)

  • Long-term outcomes following stereotactic body radiotherapy boost for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Baker S, Verduijn GM, Petit S, Sewnaik A, Mast H, Koljenović S, Nuyttens JJ, Heemsbergen WD. Acta Oncol. 2019 Feb 27:1-8. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2019.1581375.
  • Radiation dose to the masseter and medial pterygoid muscle in relation to trismus after chemoradiotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer. Kraaijenga SA, Hamming-Vrieze O, Verheijen S, Lamers E, van der Molen L, Hilgers FJ, van den Brekel MW, Heemsbergen WD. Head Neck. 2019 Jan 16. doi: 10.1002/hed.25573.
  • Locoregional failures and their relation to radiation fields following stereotactic body radiotherapy boost for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Baker S, Verduijn G, Petit S, Nuyttens JJ, Sewnaik A, van der Lugt A, Heemsbergen WD. Head Neck. 2019 Jan 12. doi: 10.1002/hed.25587.
  • Internal Mammary Chain Sentinel Nodes in Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients: Toward Selective Removal. van Loevezijn AA, Bartels SAL, van Duijnhoven FH, Heemsbergen WD, Bosma SCJ, Elkhuizen PHM, Donswijk ML, Rutgers EJT, Oldenburg HSA, Vrancken Peeters MTFD, van der Ploeg IMC. Ann Surg Oncol. 2019 Apr;26(4):945-953. doi: 10.1245/s10434-018-7058-5.
  • Moderate Hypofractionation in Intermediate- and High-Risk, Localized Prostate Cancer: Health-Related Quality of Life From the Randomized, Phase 3 HYPRO Trial. Wortel RC, Oomen-de Hoop E, Heemsbergen WD, Pos FJ, Incrocci L. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2019 Mar 15;103(4):823-833. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2018.11.020.
  • Prediction of early mortality following stereotactic body radiotherapy for peripheral early-stage lung cancer. Baker S, Sharma A, Peric R, Heemsbergen WD, Nuyttens JJ. Acta Oncol. 2019 Feb;58(2):237-242. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2018.1532602.
  • The impact of margin reduction on outcome and toxicity in head and neck cancer patients treated with image-guided volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT). Navran A, Heemsbergen W, Janssen T, Hamming-Vrieze O, Jonker M, Zuur C, Verheij M, Remeijer P, Sonke JJ, van den Brekel M, Al-Mamgani A. Radiother Oncol. 2019 Jan;130:25-31. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2018.06.032. In Reply to Güngör et al. Heemsbergen WD, Wortel RC, Incrocci L, Smeenk RJ, Witte MG, Pos FJ, Krol S. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2018 Apr 1;100(5):1291-1292. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.12.284.
  • Seminal vesicle invasion on multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging: Correlation with histopathology. Grivas N, Hinnen K, de Jong J, Heemsbergen W, Moonen L, Witteveen T, van der Poel H, Heijmink S. Eur J Radiol. 2018 Jan;98:107-112. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2017.11.013.
  • Image Guided Radiation Therapy Strategies for Pelvic Lymph Node Irradiation in High-Risk Prostate Cancer: Motion and Margins. Kershaw L, van Zadelhoff L, Heemsbergen W, Pos F, van Herk M. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2018 Jan 1;100(1):68-77. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.08.044.
  • Local control in sinonasal malignant melanoma: Comparing conventional to hypofractionated radiotherapy. Lansu J, Klop WM, Heemsbergen W, Navran A, Al-Mamgani A, Langendijk JA, Kaanders JH, Terhaard C, Karakullukcu B, Hamming-Vrieze O. Head Neck. 2018 Jan;40(1):86-93. doi: 10.1002/hed.24979. Breast-shape changes during radiation therapy after breast-conserving surgery. T Alderliesten, WD. Heemsbergen, A Betgen, R Topolnjak, PHM Elkhuizen, C van Vliet-Vroegindeweij, P Remeijer. PhiRO 2018 doi.org/10.1016/j.phro.2018.05.006.

Teaching activities

  • 2000 - 2005: Teacher, international ESTRO course ‘IMRT and other conformal techniques in practice. (European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology)
  • 2010 - 2016: Teacher, course ‘Basic Medical Statistics’ of the Oncology Graduate School Amsterdam (OOA)
  • 2013: Teacher, international pre-meeting ESTRO course ‘Statistics in Radiotherapy’. Author of chapter “the importance of the quality of the data”, book title “Modelling Radiotherapy Side Effects: Practical Applications for Planning Optimization” (publisher CTC, 2019)

Scholarships, grants, and awards

Winner of the Siemens poster price at ESTRO KWF grant received in 2019 for project "Second primary cancers after modern radiotherapy for prostate cancer (SPARC)".


Current research projects

  • PRORAD: prospective cohort study Quality of Life in prostate cancer patients treated with radiotherapy.
  • SPARC: Second primary tumors after Radiotherapy for prostate cancer (in collaboration with the Netherlands Cancer Registry).
  • OROPH: Toxicity and outcomes after radiotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer (retrospective cohort study). This project includes several substudies aiming at the development of prediction models for endpointsof interest(osteoradionecrosis, noncancer death, and others).
  • HYPRO substudy: modeling toxicity after hypofractionation (data available from previous multicenter randomized trial).