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Information is key to patient informed choice and the internet is currently a major source of health information for adults in the UK. In order for the users to make use of the information it must be presented in a way that the user can understand. This depends on a number of factors one being that the document is written at the right level to be understood by the reader, readability.
The aim of this study was to assess the readability of radiotherapy-related documents on the internet and compare their levels to published norms.
An internet search was undertaken using Google, to identify UK-based literature. Once identified documents were downloaded into Word and cleaned of punctuation other than that at the end of the sentence, documents were then analysed by the software package Readability Studio.
Results and conclusions
Documents tended to be written at too high a reading level, but the reading level had improved from a similar study conducted in 2006. The level of readability appears to show a relationship to the use of passive voice, which was very variable in the sample collected and reduction in the use of passive voice could help with the readability of the information.
Studies have investigated the prevalence of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue in various healthcare professions. However, the majority of evidence is linked to the nursing profession and little is known about paramedical professions such as radiography and even less is known about its prevalence in students. The purpose of this study was to describe the levels of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue in the student population and how they varied in time.
Students undertaking radiotherapy training at the researcher’s host sites were surveyed using the Professional Quality of Life questionnaire at the end of each final clinical block in each year of their training.
Results and conclusion
During the 3 years of training compassion satisfaction falls and burnout increases in the student population, although the change is not significant. Secondary traumatic stress increases significantly during the 3 years of training, F=5·725, p=0·005. Considerable variation also exists in the three scores dependent on the student’s clinical training site. Relationships are also observed between some personality traits, particularly conscientiousness and neuroticism and compassion scores.
The Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG) reported that the risks of breast cancer treatment in woman smokers may outweigh the benefits. The data used doses from published reports using a variety of treatment techniques. In our study, the risks of lung cancer and heart disease were determined from a modern era tangential-only technique.
Methods and materials
Doses to the lung and heart were obtained for tangential radiotherapy to the breast or chest wall. The risk of lung cancer incidence and cardiac mortality were calculated by taking the ratio of our doses to those published by the EBCTG.
A total of 77 women were identified meeting our inclusion criteria. The mean combined whole lung dose was 2·0 Gy. The mean whole heart dose was 0·9 Gy. The estimated risk of lung cancer and cardiac mortality in a 50-year-old life-long smoker was estimated to be 1·5 and <1%, respectively.
Tangential only radiotherapy delivered substantially lower doses to the combined whole lung and whole heart than those reported by the EBCTCG. In this cohort, the risks of radiation induced lung cancer and heart disease are outweighed by the benefits of radiotherapy even in those that are smokers.
This study aimed to compare intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) regarding plan quality and healthy lung sparing, in stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
Materials and methods
The plans of 60 patients were allocated either to the IMRT (n=30) or the VMAT (n=30) group. The dose prescribed to the planning target volume (PTV) was evaluated at the 95% level and the mean lung dose (MLD) and the healthy lung receiving 5, 10 and 20 Gy (V5, V10 and V20, respectively) were analysed. The normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) for radiation pneumonitis was calculated with the Lyman–Kutcher–Burman model.
Both techniques achieved comparable results for target coverage (V95%=97·87 versus 97·18%, p>0·05) and homogeneity. The MLD (15·57 versus 16·98 Gy, p>0·05), V5 (60·35 versus 67·25%, p>0·05) and V10 (45·22 versus 53·14%, p=0·011) were lower for IMRT, whereas VMAT reduced V20 (26·44 versus 25·90%, p>0·05). The NTCP for radiation pneumonitis was higher for VMAT, but no statistical significance was observed (11·07 versus 12·75, p>0·05).
Both techniques seemed suitable for NSCLC treatment, but IMRT presented better results regarding lung sparing thus being beneficial in reducing the risk of radiation-induced pneumonitis.
Current literature suggests the information and support needs of oncology patients undergoing radical radiotherapy to the prostate often remain unmet and can impact quality of life. We aimed to explore the effectiveness of delivery and opportunities for service improvement, including a group-based treatment review.
A total of 60 prostate patients completing radical radiotherapy (mean age 70, range 47–79) in a UK cancer-centre completed a self-designed questionnaire assessing information and support. To explore views on a group-based treatment review, 11% took part in a semi-structured interview. Descriptive data were computed and interviews transcribed and analysed thematically.
In all, 87% were satisfied with information and support when delivered by radiographers. However, 26% were only ‘sometimes’ able to complete bladder-filling, suggesting information regarding treatment delays would improve this. In total, 49% preferred both Doctor and Urology nurse reviews whereas 26% preferred nurse only; 70% stated their ‘concerns were always addressed’ by a nurse and 49% by a Doctor. Interviews revealed that a group review was generally acceptable with peer support an influencing factor.
Overall patients felt their needs were being met. Suggestions for improvement (more information on preparation, side effects and delays) will be implemented locally. Future work will explore the feasibility of group reviews in patients undergoing radical radiotherapy to the prostate.
Accurate and reproducible patient positioning is a critical step in radiotherapy for breast cancer. This has seen the use of permanent skin markings becoming standard practice in many centres. Permanent skin markings may have a negative impact on long-term cosmetic outcome, which may in turn, have psychological implications in terms of body image. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using a semi-permanent tattooing device for the administration of skin marks for breast radiotherapy set-up.
Materials and methods
This was designed as a phase II double-blinded randomised-controlled study comparing our standard permanent tattoos with the Precision Plus Micropigmentation (PPMS) device method. Patients referred for radical breast radiotherapy were eligible for the study. Each study participant had three marks applied using a randomised combination of the standard permanent and PPMS methods and was blinded to the type of each mark. Follow up was at routine appointments until 24 months post radiotherapy. Participants and a blind assessor were invited to score the visibility of each tattoo at each follow-up using a Visual Analogue Scale. Tattoo scores at each time point and change in tattoo scores at 24 months were analysed by a general linear model using the patient as a fixed effect and the type of tattoo (standard or research) as covariate. A simple questionnaire was used to assess radiographer feedback on using the PPMS.
In total, 60 patients were recruited to the study, of which 55 were available for follow-up at 24 months. Semi-permanent tattoos were more visible at 24 months than the permanent tattoos. Semi-permanent tattoos demonstrated a greater degree of fade than the permanent tattoos at 24 months (final time point) post completion of radiotherapy. This was not statistically significant, although it was more apparent for the patient scores (p=0·071) than the blind assessor scores (p=0·27). No semi-permanent tattoos required re-marking before the end of radiotherapy and no adverse skin reactions were observed.
The PPMS presents a safe and feasible alternative to our permanent tattooing method. An extended period of follow-up is required to fully assess the extent of semi-permanent tattoo fade.
To evaluate the extent to which intensity-modulated arc therapy (IMAT) for high-grade gliomas is comparable with three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) in relation to the dose delivered to normal brain tissue (NBT), planning target volume (PTV) conformity and the dose delivered to brainstem and optic chiasma.
A total of 16 randomly selected 3DCRT treatment plans of grade 3 gliomas were re-planned using an IMAT planning technique and dose–volume histograms were compared. Primary outcomes were maximum, mean, 1/3 and 2/3 doses to NBT outside the PTV. Also the maximum, mean, D50 and D20 doses to PTV. Secondary outcomes were maximum and mean doses to the brainstem and optic chiasm. Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to compare data.
IMAT led to a statistically significant increase in mean dose to NBT (34·4 versus 33·3 Gy, (p=0·047) but a statistically significant reduction in maximum dose to NBT (62·7 versus 63·8 Gy, p=0·004) compared with 3DCRT. IMAT led to statistically significant reductions in maximum, D50 and D20 doses to the PTV (63·3 versus 64·7 Gy, p=0·001; 60·0 versus 60·7 Gy, p=0·001 and 60·5 versus 61·8 Gy, p=0·002, respectively). No statistically significant differences were seen in doses to brainstem and optic chiasm.
IMAT is at least comparable with 3DCRT in relation to minimising dose to NBT and ensuring good PTV conformity. Doses delivered to organs at risk using IMAT were also comparable with 3DCRT. This study supports the continued use of IMAT for the treatment of high-grade gliomas.
Evolving data are showing the need of considering smaller planning target volume (PTV) margin in paediatrics compared with adults treated for the same body site. This study proposed to evaluate the current patterns of practice regarding the PTV margin in paediatric patients compared with adult patients through an international survey.
Materials and methods
A four-item questionnaire was created to address the PTV margins for paediatrics and adults as part of a comprehensive survey. International Paediatric Radiation Oncology Society (PROS) members were selected to partake and were contacted via email.
In total, 43 responded to the survey. The majority of the responders have written guidelines for PTV margin while the majority of those who have guidelines do not have separate guidelines for paediatrics. The implemented PTV margin for paediatric patients was in the majority 3–5 mm for the head region and 5–10 mm for the torso region and the difference from the PTV margin implemented in adults was not statistically significant.
The majority of responders employ a series of site-specific PTV margin protocols that are applied to both adults and paediatrics, and do not take into consideration patient age or size. These results highlight the need of a separate policy for PTV margin in adults and paediatrics in every institution.
Varying the calculation grid size can change the results of dose-volume and radiobiological parameters in a treatment plan, and therefore has an impact on the treatment planning quality assurance.
This study investigated the dosimetric influence of the calculation grid size variation in the prostate volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plan.
Methods and materials
Dose distributions of 10 prostate VMAT plans were acquired using calculation grid sizes of 1–5 mm. Dose-volume histogram (DVH) analysis was carried out to determine the dose-volume variation corresponding to the grid size change using the Gaussian error function (GEF). At the same time, dose-volume points, dose-volume parameters and radiobiological parameters were calculated based on DVHs of targets and organs at risk (OARs) for each grid size.
Comparing percentage variations of GEF parameters between the planning target volume (PTV) and clinical target volume (CTV), GEF parameters of the PTV were found varied more significantly than the CTV. This resulted in larger variations of dose-volume (%ΔCI=40·02 versus 13·55%, %ΔHI=12·45 versus 2·93% and %ΔGI=0·22 versus 0·06%) and radiobiological parameters (%ΔTCP=0·61 versus 0·25% and %ΔEUD=2·11 versus 0·26%) of the PTV compared with CTV. For OARs, the rectal wall showed a larger dose-volume variation than the rectum. However, similar dose-volume variation due to grid size change was not found in the bladder, bladder wall and femur.
Knowing the dosimetric variation in this study is important to the radiotherapy staff in the quality assurance for the prostate VMAT planning.
During the treatment of breast cancer, radiotherapy to the supraclavicular fossa region results in absorption of radiation by the thyroid gland and consequently leads to hypothyroidism in 40% of patients. The aim of this study was to compare thyroid gland radiation absorption during radiotherapy with different anterioposterior beam radiation of 6–15 and 15–15 MV photon beam energies.
Materials and methods
In total, 29 patients with breast cancer were recruited to this study. Adjuvant radiotherapy with a total dose of 50 Gy was performed for each participant. Thyroid gland dosimetric measurements were evaluated including, mean dose, minimum and maximum dose, and V20, V30, V40 and V50 (percentage of thyroid volume receiving ≥20, ≥30, ≥40 and ≥50 Gy, respectively). The irradiation delivered doses were measured using Prowess Panther treatment planning system (Version 5.5). All data were evaluated using SPSS software.
In total, 29 subjects with mean age of 53·4±9·4 were studied. According to the obtained results, at 15–15 MV energies, a significantly lower dose was absorbed by the thyroid gland, was observed in contrast to their counterparts who were treated with 6–15 MV photon beam energies.
Using 15–15 MV photon beam energies field can significantly reduce the absorbed dose to the thyroid gland and consequently can reduce the risk of developing hypothyroidism in breast cancer patients treated with radiotherapy.
The aim of the study was to assess the effect on rectal consistency, of introducing a micro-enema in the preparation of patients receiving radiotherapy treatment of urinary bladder cancer.
Materials and methods
The treatment cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) images from patients receiving radiotherapy for bladder cancer were retrospectively assessed. CBCT datasets from nine patients treated without rectal preparation (97 CBCT), and 13 patients (134 CBCT) treated following micro-enema use before planning and treatment were evaluated. CBCT were compared with the planning computed tomography for rectal status, rectal diameter and presence of gas.
Reproducibility of an empty rectum was achieved in 70% of treatment fractions delivered using an enema protocol compared with 33% of fractions delivered without preparation. In total, 10% of fractions were delivered with the presence of faeces or faeces and gas, compared with 46% of fractions for the non-intervention group. Enemas did not affect the proportion of fractions delivered with gas, however, where gas was present, 65% of CBCT fractions had <5% gas for patients using enemas compared with 32% without.
The use of a micro-enema before planning scan and each fraction was well tolerated and proved effective in managing and reducing inter-fraction variations in rectal volume and contents.
This study compared the pattern of radiation induced parotid changes between conventional (ConRT) and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients.
56 adult NPC patients treated with IMRT (n=28) and conventional radiotherapy (n=28) were recruited. CT scans were acquired before radiotherapy, at 10th, 20th and 30th fractions, and 3 months after treatment. Parotid gland was delineated in the corresponding CT slices and its mean dose was calculated. The volumetric and geometric changes of the parotid gland at various time intervals were compared against the pre-treatment structure set. The pattern of changes was compared between the two techniques.
The mean parotid dose of IMRT (37.5±9.5 Gy) was significantly lower than ConRT (49.1±7.4 Gy). The parotid gland volume, DICE similarity coefficient and lateral dimension of patient head gradually decreased during the radiotherapy course and partially recovered in 3 months post-treatment. The differences between two groups were not significant until at 3 month after treatment, where IMRT showed significantly better volume recovery.
Similar parotid gland size and location changes were observed during the treatment course in both ConRT and IMRT. However IMRT demonstrated better parotid volume recovery after treatment.
Although manual adjustment of automatic cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) matching may improve the target coverage in certain points of interest, concerns exist that this may lead to dosimetric uncertainties which would negate the theoretical benefit of this approach. The objective of this study is to evaluate the dosimetric impact of manual adjustments made after automatic bony registration on CBCT in prostate patients.
A total of 50 CBCT datasets of ten high-risk prostate cancer patients were randomly chosen. Each CBCT dataset was registered three times. Method (A): Automatic registration, Method (M1): Manual adjustment carried out by two experienced radiation therapists, Method (M2): Manual adjustment carried out by different radiation therapists with varying levels of experience. The clinical target volume (CTV), planning target volume (PTV), the bladder and the rectum were subsequently contoured on each CBCT dataset by a radiation oncologist blinded to the registration methods. The absolute difference of various dosimetric parameters were then analysed and compared with the original planning doses. A comparison of the three matching methods employed was also carried out.
There was a statistically significant difference in the magnitude of move taken in the inferior superior direction between M1 and M2 method. There were no significant differences observed in any of the dosimetric parameters examined in relation to the rectum, bladder or CTV. The only significant difference observed was the volume of PTV covered by the prescription isodose (95%) which was statistically significant lower in method A compared with both M1 and M2. There was no difference observed between M1 and M2 methods. The mean duration of the automated registration and subsequent analysis was 64 seconds compared with 91 seconds for automated registrations which included the additional manual adjustment.
CBCT-based manual adjustments of automated bony-based registrations during the image-guided radiotherapy verification of prostate cancer patients can improve PTV coverage without impacting negatively on the doses received by the organs at risk. This strategy is associated with a small increase in overall treatment time.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the detailed angularly dependent attenuation characteristics of three different commercial couch-tops: Varian IGRT, Qfix kVue Standard and Qfix kVue Dose Max couch-tops used in radiation therapy.
Materials and methods
The attenuation of photon beams by the treatment couch-tops was measured using a farmer chamber inserted at the centre of a 16 cm diameter cylindrical acrylic phantom for five different photon energies: 6 MV, 6FFF MV, 10 MV, 10FFF MV and 15 MV photon beams. The Varian IGRT couch-top has three different thicknesses thus attenuation measurements were done at the three different longitudinal locations. Measurements were made with the sliding support rails of the Qfix kVue Standard and Qfix kVue Dose Max couch-tops at both ‘rails-in’ and ‘rails-out’ positions. All measurements were taken for several projections through 360° movement of the gantry and for two different field sizes; 5×5 cm2 and 10×10 cm2.
Results and findings
The results indicate that the maximum attenuation of the Varian IGRT couch-top at the thin, medium and thick portions are 5·1, 5·7 and 8·9%, respectively, the Qfix kVue Standard couch with the rails-in and rails-out are 11·2 and 13·7%, respectively, and Qfix kVue Dose Max couch-top with rails-in and rails-out are 9·7 and 13·8%, respectively. The results from this study can be used to account for the couch-top attenuation during radiation treatment planning of patients treated with these couch-tops.
The accuracy of two calculation algorithms of the Varian Eclipse treatment planning system (TPS), the electron Monte Carlo algorithm (eMC) and general Gaussian pencil beam algorithm (GGPB) for calculating peripheral dose distribution of electron beams was investigated.
Peripheral dose measurements were carried out for 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 22 MeV electron beams using parallel plate ionisation chamber and EBT3 film in the slab phantom. Measurements were performed for 6×6, 10×10 and 25×25 cm2 cone sizes at dmax of each energy up to 20 cm beyond the field edges. The measured and TPS calculated data were compared.
The TPS underestimated the out-of-field doses. The difference between measured and calculated doses increase with the cone size. For ionisation chamber measurement, the largest deviation between calculated and measured doses is <4·29% using the eMC, but can increase up to 8·72% of the distribution using GGPB. For film measurement, the minimum gamma analysis passing rates between measured and calculated dose distributions for all field sizes and energies used in this study were 91·2 and 74·7% for eMC and GGPB, respectively.
The use of GGPB for planning large field treatments with 6 MeV could lead to inaccuracies of clinical significance.
To evaluate the Klarity® Mask with respect to skin doses and toxicity secondary to head and neck cancer radiation treatment.
Materials and methods
This prospective study included five nasopharyngeal cancer patients who underwent intensity-modulated radiation therapy and monitored for skin toxicity. An anatomical Perspex head and neck phantom was designed and used. All patients’ treatment plans were separately transferred to the phantom. Dosimetric measurements were performed using chip-shaped thermoluminescent dosimeters (LiF:Mg,Ti TLDs) which were distributed at certain target points on the phantom. Phantom was irradiated twicely with and without a Klarity® Mask. Three fractions for each patient plan were obtained and compared with treatment planning system (TPS) doses as guided by computed tomography.
The Klarity mask used for patient immobilisation increased the surface dose by 10·83% more than that without the mask. The average variations between skin dose measurements with and without the Klarity mask for all patients’ plans ranged from 10·26 to 11·83%. TPS overestimated the surface dose by 19·13% when compared with thermoluminescent dosimeters that measured the direct skin dose.
Klarity immobilisation mask increases skin doses, as a consequence, surface dose measurements should be monitored and must be taken into account.