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Cancer research in the National Health Service has increased by 10·5% in 3 years since the formation of the National Cancer Research networks in 2000. The initial enthusiasm from clinical staffs to embark on a project has to be balanced against the implications of resources, costs and other developments. There is no standardised method to assess the impact of research projects on clinical practice. The aim of this project was to develop and implement a Radiotherapy Research Activity Assessment Tool (RAAT) to assess the feasibility of newly proposed projects within clinical settings.
Methods and materials
A multi-step development method was used. The steps involved the principles of quality function deployment. The consecutive steps involved developing a user-friendly and replicable tool and would fit on one A4 page. The process involved multi-professionals and patients throughout the design process. The tool was preliminary tested on usability among eight stakeholders on a ten-point scale (1=poor; 10=very good). Percentage agreement was evaluated at 6 month post initial RAAT assessment scoring by the seven multi-disciplinary team (MDT) members.
The RAAT was developed in an e-form available in Microsoft Excel. The tool scored a mode of 6 for usability. Interrater reliability testing between the radiotherapy MDT resulted in 88% agreement. The RAAT seems to be feasible in clinical practice, and provide a framework to guide the decision-making process. The study calls for further testing of usability and review of long-term implications on all stakeholders.
Radiotherapy randomised controlled trials provide evidence to support the development of new techniques and dose/fractionation regimens. Some radiotherapy trials have previously had to close early or revise targets due to low recruitment rates. Many authors have recommended research into recruitment strategies for many areas of medicine, however little work has been carried out in the specific field of radiotherapy.
Using a survey of research radiographers followed by radiotherapy patient interviews, this project provides perspectives on motives for patient participation in radiotherapy clinical trials, and how to best support people through this decision-making process.
The main factors influencing participation identified by the radiographers were altruism, treatment fatigue and concerns about the trial arms, lack of resources and lack of commitment from some medical colleagues. For patients the main factors were mainly emotional; altruism, and fears for efficacy of different trial arms featured, with requests for timely communication of trial information.
We recommend that strategies should be offered proactively to support patients through the decision-making process when considering trial participation. Research radiographers are ideally qualified to offer support and expert knowledge to these patients.
The aim of this study was to ascertain prostate cancer patients’ perceptions of the quality of physical and emotional support they receive as standard during their course of radiotherapy treatment.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted on 13 patients undergoing radical radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. Interviews were conducted between fractions 32 and 37 and data were analysed using the Giorgi method.
A number of themes emerged from the data including, interestingly, the value of patients’ place on the ‘waiting room support’ with 46% finding this to be a positive aspect of their experience. On the whole, patients felt well supported during their treatment by both radiographers and fellow patients. However, the results highlighted areas for further improvements, particularly around bowel and bladder preparation.
This small single-centre study has highlighted the importance of good quality, timely information provision. Although patients were, for the most part very happy with the services they were being provided with, areas in need of development where also highlighted. If a more structured review process is to be further investigated then the role of the ‘review radiographer’ should be considered as part of this. The potential benefits of patient peer support is also worthy of further exploration.
The purpose of this study was to assess the radiotherapy fields being offered to women with a positive sentinel lymph node (SLN) who have not had axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), based on the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z11 results.
We conducted a postal survey, addressed to radiation oncologists specialising in breast cancer treatment. In total, 179 cancer centres were contacted. Three hypothetical case scenarios were presented. In each case, the patient is clinically node negative but has a positive SLN following breast-conserving surgery, without further ALND. Respondents were asked what radiotherapy fields they would treat with in each scenario.
We received responses from 90 radiation oncologists from 73 centres in 11 countries. In the three scenarios (low, intermediate and high risk of further lymph node involvement), standard tangential beams would be used by only 27, 12 and 7%, respectively; high tangential beams by 33, 18 and 13%; tangents with full axillary/supraclavicular irradiation by 26, 51 and 61%; the remaining 14, 19 and 19% would use a nomogram to aid their decision.
This survey describes the lack of consensus regarding the management of the axilla in patients with clinically node-negative breast cancer but a positive sentinel node and who have not had ALND.
To compare the image-based three-dimensional treatment planning using AcurosTM BV and AAPM TG-43 algorithm for intracavitary brachytherapy of carcinoma cervix.
Materials and methods
Twenty-seven patients with cancer cervix, stage IIB or IIIB with vaginal involvement limited to the upper third of the vagina was included into the study. Intracavitary treatments with the patient in this study done with computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging compatible ring applicator. Groupe European de Curietherapie and European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology recommended doses to target volumes and organs at risk compared using dose volume histogram.
The mean value of Point ‘A’ dose was compared between AcurosTM BV and TG-43, which indicates 0·13% difference. The differences in the mean dose to gross tumour volume for various volumes are V100% 0·28%, V150% 1·22% and V200% 1·03%; all volumes showed small difference but statistical significant (p<0·05). The mean dose of high-risk clinical target volume (HRCTV) D90 using AcurosTM BV was 8·47 Gy, which was 1·63% less compared with TG-43. The mean point A dose using AcurosTM BV is 1·04 times the dose to D90 of mean HRCTV. The same difference was observed in comparison with TG43. D2cc and D0·1cc of the bladder, rectum and sigmoid showed a statistically significant difference (p<0·05) in comparison with TG-43.
The differences in dosimetric parameters between the AcurosTM BV and TG-43 proved to be statistically significant. The difference is very small, and they are clinically insignificant.
We demonstrated that our proposed planning target volume (PTV) dose–volume factor (PDVF) can be used to evaluate the PTV dose coverage between the intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plans based on 90 prostate patients.
PDVF were determined from the prostate IMRT and VMAT plans to compare their variation of PTV dose coverage. Comparisons of the PDVF with other plan evaluation parameters such as D5%, D95%, D99%, Dmean, conformity index (CI), homogeneity index (HI), gradient index (GI) and prostate tumour control probability (TCP) were carried out.
Methods and materials
Prostate IMRT and VMAT plans using the 6 MV photon beams were created from 40 and 50 patients, respectively. Dosimetric indices (CI, HI and GI), dose–volume points (D5%, D95%, D99% and Dmean) and prostate TCP were calculated according to the PTV dose–volume histograms (DVHs) of the plans. All PTV DVH curves were fitted using the Gaussian error function (GEF) model. The PDVF were calculated based on the GEF parameters.
From the PTV DVHs of the prostate IMRT and VMAT plans, the average D99% of the PTV for IMRT and VMAT were 74·1 and 74·5 Gy, respectively. The average prostate TCP were 0·956 and 0·958 for the IMRT and VMAT plans, respectively. The average PDVF of the IMRT and VMAT plans were 0·970 and 0·983, respectively. Although both the IMRT and VMAT plans showed very similar prostate TCP, the dosimetric and radiobiological results of the VMAT technique were slightly better than IMRT.
The calculated PDVF for the prostate IMRT and VMAT plans agreed well with other dosimetric and radiobiological parameters in this study. PDVF was verified as an alternative of evaluation parameter in the quality assurance of prostate treatment planning.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the dosimetric aspects of whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) using an irregular surface compensator (ISC) in contrast to conventional radiotherapy techniques.
Treatment plans were devised for 20 patients. The Eclipse treatment planning system (Varian Medical Systems) was used for dose calculation. For the ISC, a fluence editor application was used to extend the range of optimal fluence. The treatment plan with the ISC was compared with the conventional technique in terms of doses in the planning target volume (PTV), dose homogeneity index (DHI), three-dimensional (3D) maximum dose, eye and lens doses and monitor unit (MU) counts required for treatment.
Compared with conventional WBRT, the ISC significantly reduced the DHI, 3D maximum dose and volumes receiving 105% of the prescription dose, in addition to reducing both eye and lens doses (p<0·05 for all comparisons). In contrast, MU counts were higher for the ISC technique than for conventional WBRT (828 versus 328, p<0·01).
The ISC technique for WBRT considerably improved the dose homogeneity in the PTV. As patients who receive WBRT have improved survival, the long-term side effects of radiotherapy are highly important.
Exposure of skin to high doses of radiation may lead to the development of erythematous skin changes. The aims of this study were to measure skin doses and to identify potential factors that may contribute to skin reactions in nasopharyngeal cancer patients undergoing intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
Material and methods
This study was a prospective study with 21 nasopharyngeal cancer patients treated by IMRT. Personal data were collected and in vivo skin dose measurements were performed using Thermoluminescent dosimeters. All patients were monitored clinically and skin reactions were classified according to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group criteria. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression was conducted using Statistical Package for Social Sciences Software to identify skin toxicity risk factors.
Grade 1 toxicity was observed in eight patients, Grade 2 in 11 patients and Grade 3 in two patients towards the end of treatment. It was found that accumulative skin doses >7 Gy (p<0·05) was a risk factor for skin toxicity. However, previous or concomitant chemotherapy with radiotherapy and stage of cancer were not significant factors for the severity of skin reactions.
The neck skin should be identified as a sensitive structure for dose optimisation. Skin dose measurement and skin-sparing techniques are highly recommended for head and neck patients treated with IMRT.
This study evaluated dosimetric parameters for cervical high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy treatment using varying dose prescription methods.
This study includes 125 tandem-based cervical HDR brachytherapy treatment plans of 25 patients who received HDR brachytherapy. Delineation of high-risk clinical target volumes (HR-CTVs) and organ at risk were done on original computed tomographic images. The dose prescription point was defined as per International Commission in Radiation Units and Measurements Report Number 38 (ICRU-38), also redefined using American Brachytherapy Society (ABS) 2011 criteria. The coverage index (V100) for each HR-CTV was calculated using dose volume histogram parameters. A plot between HR-CTV and V100 was plotted using the best-fit linear regression line (least-square fit analysis).
Mean prescribed dose to ICRU-38 Point A was 590·47±28·65 cGy, and to ABS Point A was 593·35±30·42 cGy. There was no statistically significant difference between planned ICRU-38 and calculated ABS Point A doses (p=0·23). The plot between HR-CTV and V100 is well defined by the best-fit linear regression line with a correlation coefficient of 0·9519.
For cervical HDR brachytherapy, dose prescription to an arbitrarily defined point (e.g., Point A) does not provide consistent coverage of HR-CTV. The difference in coverage between two dose prescription approaches increases with increasing CTV. Our ongoing work evaluates the dosimetric consequences of volumetric dose prescription approaches for these patients.
In recent years, there has been a spectacular development in nanomedicine field with new nanoparticles for diagnosis and cancer therapy. Although most researchers have been always interested in gold nanoparticles (GNPs)
Materials and methods
In the present work we present a comparison between the use of bio-nanomaterials in proton therapy.
Consequently, our results show that platinum nanoparticles (PtNPs) present an interesting advantages comparing with GNPs and silver nanoparticles. On the other hand, the use of PtNPs facilitates in a considerable way the proton therapy.
Antioxidant therapies to control oxidative damage have already attracted worldwide attention in recent years. Extensive studies on phytochemicals in cell culture system and animal models have provided a wealth of information on the mechanism by which such nutraceuticals show their beneficial effect. Nutraceuticals include plant-derived factors (phytochemicals) and factors derived from animal sources as well as from microbial sources. The activities of nutraceuticals are broad and include antioxidation, modulation of enzyme activity and modification of natural hormonal activity (agonist or antagonist) to act as a precursor for one or more beneficial molecules. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals that cause cell damage. Antioxidant consumption during radiotherapy and its effects are still controversial. Some studies suggest that antioxidant supplementation during chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be beneficial and some, harmful. Wheat grass is rich in superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme. Radiotherapy causes tumour cell kill via activation of reactive oxygen species, specifically by the hydroxyl radical and needs the reactive species for effective tumour control. Wheat grass which is rich in free radical scavengers can interfere with reactive oxygen species generated by radiation for tumour cell kill and can be detrimental to the therapy per se.
To hypothesise if the antioxidant properties of wheat grass could influence tumour activity, the effects of radiation therapy on tumour cells can be nullified when wheat grass is taken during radiotherapy.
Patients treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for head-and-neck cancer are often positioned supine on a carbon fibre board to which a thermoplastic mask is attached to immobilise the head and shoulders. For patients unable to tolerate a supine position, we developed a tilting board that accommodates a full-scale head-and-shoulder mask.
Materials and methods
Phantom measurements were obtained to confirm the dosimetric accuracy of our treatment planning system when using this board. A patient was simulated in the flat and tilted positions on the board. The two corresponding treatment plans were evaluated by comparing the target coverage and doses with organs at risk. The patient’s intra-fraction motion was quantified during his tilted treatments.
Phantom measurements confirmed the accuracy of the dosimetric calculations. The tilted plan met dosimetric standards for clinical acceptability. The intra-fraction motion of the patient in the tilted position was >3 mm in any direction.
The tilting board met clinical requirements for IMRT planning and delivery. Full-scale head-and-shoulder immobilisation was achieved in a more tolerable tilted position.