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The objective of radiotherapy immobilisation devices is to improve the reproducibility of patient positioning during treatment sessions. The inclusion of these devices in the treatment protocol may increase the skin dose. In practice, these devices are not systematically taken into account in the dose calculation.
Material and methods:
In this study, the dosimetric effects of the carbon fibre couch iBEAM Evo Extension 415, with and without three different immobilisation devices (a Klarity Breastboard R610-2ECF, a Bionix Butterfly Board and CIVCO Vac-Lok vacuum bag), were calculated and evaluated on the dose calculation for conformal three-dimensional radiation therapy. The measurements were carried out by comparing the measured dose with the one calculated for three different algorithms, FFT convolution, fast superposition and superposition algorithms, which are implemented in Xio treatment planning system (TPS).
Dosimetric tolerance levels have been respected for specific dose calculations, which do not include the fibre couch with or without immobilisation devices. Errors of up to 8% in the dose calculation were obtained for the beams passing through the fibre couch and the breast board base support region.
According to the significant attenuation differences of the beam by the fibre couch and immobilisation devices, it was concluded that ignoring the device in the dose calculation can change patient’s skin and target doses. The fibre couch and immobilisation device should be included within external body contour to account for the TPS calculation algorithms dose attenuation.
Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of death, and it is estimated that over 18·1 million new cases are diagnosed annually. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted almost every aspect of the provision and management of cancer care worldwide. The time-critical nature of COVID-19 diagnosis and the large number of patients requiring hospitalisation necessitated the rerouting of already limited resources available for cancer services and programmes to the care of COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, the stringent social distancing, restricted in-hospital visits and lockdown measures instituted by various governments resulted in the disruption of the oncologic continuum including screening, diagnostic and prevention programmes, treatments and follow-up services as well as research and clinical trial programmes.
Materials and Methods:
We searched several databases from October 2020 to January 2021 for relevant studies published in English between 2020 and 2021 and reporting on the impact of COVID-19 on the cancer care continuum. This narrative review paper describes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cancer patient care continuum from screening and prevention to treatments and ongoing management of patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted cancer care and the management of cancer services and patients. Nevertheless, the oncology healthcare communities worldwide have done phenomenal work with joint and collaborative efforts, utilising best available evidence-based guidelines to continue to give safe and effective treatments for cancer patients while maintaining the safety of patients, healthcare professionals and the general population. Nevertheless, several healthcare centres are now faced with significant challenges with the management of the backlog of screening, diagnosis and treatment cases. It is imperative that governments, leaders of healthcare centres and healthcare professionals take all necessary actions and policies focused on minimising further system-level delays to cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment initiation and clearing of all backlogs cases from the COVID-19 pandemic in order to mitigate the negative impact on cancer outcomes.
An ever-growing number of patients with implantable cardiac rhythm devices are treated with radiation therapy for cancer and are therefore at risk of device failure. Several medical societies developed recommendations for the management of such patients.
We report the case of a 76-year-old patient with an implanted cardioverter defibrillator, treated with external radiotherapy for breast cancer, to test in practice the recommendations on the management of similar cases.
Radiation-induced nausea and vomiting (RINV) is a common side effect of single fraction palliative radiotherapy. Patients experiencing RINV have significantly reduced quality of life and a prescription of prophylactic antiemetics, principally 5-HT3 antagonists, is recommended. There is a growing body of evidence relating to indications for this, but as yet there are no national guidelines.
A retrospective audit aimed to determine the extent to which patients at high and moderate emetogenic risk receiving single fraction radiotherapy were prescribed prophylactic emetic medication in line with the current evidence base.
A total of 60 patients were included in the audit; of these patients, 50 were consented for the risk of nausea and/or vomiting. Prophylactic antiemetics were only prescribed to 28 (46·7%) of all audited patients. Out of the 50 patients who provided informed consent, only 24 (48%) were prescribed an antiemetic prior to their treatment.
Antiemetic prescribing for single fraction patients at moderate to high emetogenic risk at a large regional centre is underutilised in relation to published evidence. Amended guidance and further audits are recommended to ensure that this patient group is best supported.
The patient experience of radiotherapy magnetic resonance (MR) simulation is unknown. This study aims to evaluate the patient experience of MR simulation in comparison to computed tomography (CT) simulation, identifying the quality of patient experience and pathway changes which could improve patient experience outcomes.
Materials and Methods:
MR simulation was acquired for 46 anal and rectal cancer patients. Patient experience questionnaires were provided directly after MR simulation. Questionnaire responses were assessed after 33 patients (cohort one). Changes to the scanning pathway were identified and implemented. The impact of changes was assessed by cohort two (13 patients).
Response rates were 85% (cohort one) and 54% (cohort two). 75% of cohort one respondents found the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) experience to be better or similar to their CT experience. Implemented changes included routine use of blankets, earplugs and headphones, music and feet-first positioning and further MRI protocol optimisation. All cohort two respondents found the MRI experience to be better or similar to the CT experience.
MR simulation can be a comfortable and positive experience that is comparable to that of standard radiotherapy CT simulation. Special attention is required due to the fundamental differences between CT and MRI scanning.
To determine whether myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS) changes in lung cancer patients treated with radiotherapy (RT) were detectable with late gadolinium enhancement cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (LGE CMR).
Materials and methods:
Twenty-one patients with lung cancer were evaluated pre-RT and at 2 and 6 months post-RT follow-up (FU) with MPS and LGE CMR. MPS changes in the left ventricle (LV) were analysed using the semi-quantitative summed rest score method (20 segments) and the Bull’s-eye-view technique. The LGE CMR studies were analysed for visual signs of myocardial damage (fibrosis), that is, focal LGE in the LV and cardiac function parameters.
MPS changes were detected in 7/20 patients at 2 months FU and in 8/13 patients at 6 months FU. Only one patient had a new irreversible defect judged to be caused by direct irradiation. MPS changes in two cases were deemed to be caused by attenuation. All new MPS defects were minor and no corresponding myocardial damage, or any functional changes, were evident on LGE CMR.
The extent of MPS changes at 6 months FU appeared less prominent than in previous reports. No visual signs or functional changes corresponding to myocardial damage were detected on LGE CMR. A risk for false-positive MPS changes caused by attenuation is evident.
Vaginal cancer is a rare malignancy that poses a challenge to treat and cure, as surgical excision requires life-changing procedures because of the proximity and involvement of rectum, bladder and anus. We report in this case study the successful delivery of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) for a patient with vaginal cancer after previous radiotherapy.
A 71-year-old white female who presented with dyspareunia and irritative urinary symptoms proven by biopsy was our candidate patient. Subsequent PET/CT revealed a hypermetabolic 3 cm lesion at the 12–1 o’clock position in the distal vagina involving the clitoris. The patient was initially treated with volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) with simultaneous integrated boost technique to the involved nodes, and later upon recurrence treated with SABR using 30 Gy in six fractions.
To our knowledge, this is the first report of a vaginal cylinder used to physically distance organs at risk from the treatment target and also as a localising device with image guidance for the delivery of SABR using an external beam.
The aim was to evaluate the feasibility of an intraoral stent (10 and 20 mm thickness) in radiotherapy of tongue cancer, and to measure the reduction in acute mucositis in the palate.
Materials and method:
There were six patients in the intervention group, and seven patients in the control group. Target coverage was measured by the minimum dose covering 98% of the clinical target volume (CTV). Data were collected from the planning CT and daily cone-beam computer tomography (CBCT).
The 10 and 20 mm stent yielded a mean distance of 26 and 36 mm, respectively, between the tongue and the hard palate. We found comparable dose coverage of the CTV in the treatment plan, and on the CBCT. The stent reduced mean dose to the hard palate by 61.0% (p = 0.002). Dose to the soft palate was not reduced (p = 0.18). Average Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) mucositis scores of the hard palate were 0 and 0.8 in the intervention and control group, respectively. The mucositis scores of the soft palate were 1.2 and 1.8.
Use of an intraoral stent substantially reduced the dose to the hard palate. CTV coverage was maintained. We did not find any significant reduction in visually scored radiation-induced mucositis.
Salivary duct carcinoma (SDC) is an extremely rare and aggressive subtype of salivary gland cancer with high morbidity and mortality and poor response to treatment. The current options of treatment include radical surgery followed by radiotherapy (RT) with or without chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to analyse the patterns of recurrences, possible predictors of outcome and role of RT in a cohort of patients with non-metastatic SDC.
A retrospective review of patients treated between 2010 and 2019 with histologically proven non-metastatic SDC was conducted.
Sixteen patients were included in the series. Median follow-up was 25 months. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) at 12 months were 61% and 80%, respectively. Seven out of the 16 patients had disease progression, distant metastases being most frequent. Four patients died due to disease progression. PFS was significantly worse for patients with pathological neck node positivity (p = 0·036) and peri-parotid nodes (p = 0·007). Local control was significantly associated with RT (p = 0·011). Addition of any chemotherapy, regardless of either concurrent or adjuvant, had no impact on the PFS or OS. Pathological neck node positivity with nodal stage of N2 or higher correlated significantly with worse OS (p = 0·031).
Salivary ductal carcinoma is an aggressive malignancy with high metastatic potential. Inferior prognosis was observed among patients who had metastatic deposits in either cervical nodes or peri-parotid nodes on histopathology. As systemic failures are more predominant among these patients, larger prospective trials are needed to formulate an optimum strategy for choice and sequencing of first-line systemic therapy.
Radiotherapy is a mainstay of cancer therapy for a wide variety of anatomical areas. An unfortunate side effect of treatment can be radiation damage to the skin which can be a painful and debilitating problem. Previous experience from the experimental use of Flamigel® in two large-scale clinical studies on affected skin has proven sufficiently positive for the addition of a new product in the Flamigel® family (now commercially available in the UK as Flamigel RT®, Flen Health UK). The aim of this investigation is to evaluate the use of this new product to study how effective it is in the prevention and/or treatment of radiation-induced skin damage.
Materials and methods:
A survey was conducted among radiotherapy specialist teams in dedicated UK radiotherapy centres between 1 January 2017 and 31 October 2017. This report is of a preliminary evaluation conducted by UK-based specialists on 108 patients undergoing radiotherapy. The scoring system for skin reactions of the ‘Radiation Therapy Oncology Group’ was used.
Results show that the use of Flamigel® has the potential to soothe (p = 0·0001), reduce pain (p = 0·0001) and reduce pruritus (p = 0·004). The product met the expectations of the clinicians involved (p < 0·0001) of whom most were happy to continue use or to recommend its use to colleagues (p < 0·0001).
Flamigel® is an effective treatment in the management of radiation-induced skin reactions. Erythema was unchanged through the study period (p = 0·42). No adverse reactions were reported after the use of Flamigel from twice to six times a day.
The aim of this case report is to describe the clinical presentation and imaging features of a patient with optic nerve leukaemic infiltration as the first site of relapse after complete response to systemic treatment.
Materials and methods:
We report the case of a 23-year-old man with history of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in complete remission. Six months later, the ocular examination revealed decreased visual acuity. Fundus examination showed a pale optic disk with blurred margins and multiple flame-shaped and dot and blot retinal haemorrhages in his left eye. A diagnosis of leukaemic infiltration to the optic nerve was made by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Cytological analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid did not show any abnormal cells or blasts.
A course of oral corticosteroid therapy was prescribed and 20 Gy of radiation was administered to the whole brain including the left orbit. Vision was improved dramatically in the left eye. Isolated optic nerve relapse of leukaemic infiltration is of paramount importance to early diagnosis, as vision can be saved if treatment with orbital radiotherapy is initiated promptly.
Choroidal metastases are the most frequent intraocular secondary tumours, with a prevalence of 2–7% according to the literature. Our aim was to review a clinical case of choroidal metastasis.
We present a case of a 63-year-old male patient diagnosed in 2018 with lung adenocarcinoma cT4N0M1. The patient had three metastases in the brain, which were successfully treated with radiosurgery (RS). The patient was treated with chemotherapy with pemetrexed–cisplatin schedule. Five months after diagnosis, the patient presented with decreased vision in the right eye. After ophthalmologic evaluation, he was diagnosed with a right choroidal metastasis, which was treated with external beam radiotherapy with 20 Gy in five fractions, resulting in improved visual acuity and a complete clinical and radiological response.
The patient took part in a clinical trial that continued with systemic chemotherapy. Twenty-two months after radiotherapy to the eye, the patient has good visual acuity without any side effects.
Choroidal metastasis treated with radiotherapy achieves good local control, with limited side effects, allowing an improvement in visual acuity and consequently, an improvement in the patient´s quality of life.
This study aims to compare the dosimetric parameters among four different external beam radiotherapy techniques used for the treatment of retinoblastoma.
Materials and methods:
Computed tomography (CT) sets of five retinoblastoma patients who required radiotherapy to one globe were included. Four different plans were generated for each patient using three dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT), intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) and VMAT using flattening filter free (VMAT-FFF) beam techniques. Plans were compared for target coverage and organs at risk (OARs) sparing.
The target coverage of planning target volume (PTV) for all the four modalities were clinically acceptable with a V95 of 95 ± 0%, 97·6 ± 1·87%, 99·3 ± 0·5% and 99·17 ± 0·45% for 3DCRT, IMRT, VMAT and VMAT-FFF respectively. The VMAT and IMRT plans had better target coverage than the 3DCRT plans (p = 0·001 and p = 0·07 respectively). IMRT and VMAT plans were also found superior to 3DCRT plans in terms of OAR sparing like brainstem, optic chiasm, brain (p < 0·05). VMAT delivered significantly lower dose to the brainstem and contralateral optic nerve in comparison to IMRT. Use of VMAT-FFF beams did not show any benefit over VMAT in target coverage and OAR sparing.
VMAT should be preferred over 3DCRT and IMRT for treatment of retinoblastoma owing to better target coverage and less dose to most of the OARs. However, IMRT and VMAT should be used with caution because of the increased low dose volumes to the OARs like contralateral lens and eyeball.
Brain metastases (BM) are the most common intracranial neoplasm and represent a major clinical challenge across many medical disciplines. The incidence of BM is increasing, largely due to improvements in primary disease therapeutics conferring greater systemic control, and advancements in neuroimaging techniques and availability leading to earlier diagnosis. In recent years, the landscape of BM treatment has changed significantly with the advent of personalized targeted chemotherapies and immunotherapy, the adoption of focal radiotherapy (RT) for higher intracranial disease burden, and the implementation of new surgical strategies. The increasing permutations of options available for the treatment of patients diagnosed with BM necessitate coordinated care by a multidisciplinary team. This review discusses the current treatment regimens for BM as well as examines the salient features of a modern multidisciplinary approach.
Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is the most common autoimmune bullous disease, which is usually seen in older ages. Rarely, radiotherapy (RT) has been reported as a localised trigger factor for BP.
We present a case of a 64-year-old woman who underwent radical mastectomy and radiation therapy for breast cancer. Two months after the completion of RT with adjuvant Trastuzumab, a BP eruption developed in the irradiated area, spreading thereafter to other skin areas. The patient was treated with oral corticosteroids and the lesions evolved favourably.
This case demonstrates a relatively benign skin reaction that could develop during the course of cancer treatment, which required co-management by oncologists, pathologists and dermatologists.
To compare the dosimetry and reproducibility of set-up with monoisocentric technique (MIT) and dual isocentric technique (DIT) in adjuvant breast radiotherapy (RT).
Material and methods:
Breast cancer patients treated with MIT or DIT were retrospectively studied. The organ-at-risk dose was compared between two groups. All patients underwent set-up verification with an electronic portal imaging device, and set-up time was recorded for each fraction. Treatment reproducibility was assessed in terms of systematic and random error.
Twenty patients were included (11 right and 9 left-sided tumours) and ten received whole breast RT, while the rest received chest wall RT. Overall, the mean heart dose was less with MIT (0.40 versus 0.79, p = <0.001) as well as in left-sided tumours (0.37 versus 0.98, p = 0.003). The maximum dose at the field junction was significantly higher with DIT (43 Gy, 107%, p = 0.003). The maximum total error was 1 cm in lateral for supraclavicular field and 8 mm in superior–inferior in tangents for both techniques. There was no difference in set-up errors between the two techniques.
MIT resulted in better dose homogeneity at the field junctions and reduced mean heart dose as compared to DIT. MIT is safe for implementation in clinical practice for breast cancer treatment.
This study is one of the few studies comparing MIT with DIT in terms of the dosimetry and the first one to compare set-up errors between the two techniques. The ease of set-up and better dosimetry with MIT was achieved.
Microcomputers play an increasingly important role in the delivery of radiation therapy. Exposure to neutron irradiation can produce undesirable effects in modern microcomputers. The objective of this study is to measure acute and cumulative effects of neutron exposure of Intel-based microcomputers in photon and proton therapy treatment environments.
Materials and methods:
Multiple computers were irradiated with neutrons produced from MEVION S250 passive scattering proton therapy and from Varian 21EX Linear Accelerator photon therapy systems. The energy of the proton beam was 232 MeV and the photon beam energies were 6 and 18 MV. Rates of fatal errors in computer processing unit (CPU) cores were measured.
Varying rates of fatal system errors due to upsets in the CPU cores were observed. Post-exposure routine stress testing revealed no permanent hardware defects in the random access memory (RAM) or hard disk drive (HDD) of any tested systems. Microchip manufacturers fit increasingly high numbers of transistors in the same volume and the susceptibility to radiation thus increases.
This work explores if the process size of a microchip is the dominant factor and also looked at the short- and long-term effects of neutron irradiation on modern microprocessors in a clinical environment. Additionally, methods of effective shielding are proposed.
Radiotherapy is an effective and significant mode of definitive cancer treatment with well-established local tumour control success, especially in the treatment of localised tumours. Although, for metastatic disease, the role of radiotherapy has generally been limited to palliation of symptoms. In the treatment of metastatic diseases settings, the radiation therapy technique has always been confronted with the challenge of the simultaneous treatment of all of the various distant metastatic tumour sites, however, some recent evidence suggests that radiotherapy can potentially induce anticancer immune responses whose effectors potentially migrate to distant metastatic tumours to provoke their regression in cancer patients. Thus, unirradiated distant metastatic tumour sites can exhibit a delayed therapeutic response termed the abscopal effect.
Materials and methods:
This paper reports on a review of the abscopal effect, including its biological mechanism, the effect of radiation dose and fractionation regime and the timing of immunotherapy administration on radiotherapy-induced abscopal effect, the enhancement of radiotherapy-induced abscopal effects with immunotherapy, the effect of the location of the irradiated tumour and the radiotherapy of multiple tumour sites on the likelihood and effectiveness of inducing abscopal responses in the preclinical and clinical settings and also reports on some evidence of clinical observations in patients.
Although abscopal effects of radiotherapy are still relatively rare in patients, it has gained a lot of interest due to recent development and use of immunotherapy strategies incorporating combinations of targeted immunomodulators and immune checkpoint blockade with radiation therapy. The enhancement of cancer immunotherapy could potentially enable the translation of the concept of abscopal effect into the clinics as a new strategy to induce therapeutically effective anti-tumour immune responses in cancer patients. The combination of radiotherapy and immunotherapy has the potential to expand the role of radiotherapy from a purely local tumour control treatment to play a significant role in advanced and metastatic tumour control and this could likely lead to a paradigm shift in the treatment of patients with metastatic cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy and the third leading cause of death among Canadian men. The standard treatment modalities for prostate cancer include prostatectomy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy or any combination depending on the stage of the tumour. However, several studies have reported that tobacco smoking at the time of diagnosis and during treatment can potentially impact treatment efficacy, outcome and patients quality of life after treatment.
Materials and methods:
This narrative literature review elucidates the impacts of tobacco smoking on prostate cancer progression, treatment efficacy, including its effects on prostatectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, risk of cancer recurrence and mortality and quality of life after treatment. Furthermore, we discuss the importance of integrating a smoking cessation programme into the treatment regimen for prostate cancer patients in order to yield more favourable treatment outcomes, reduce risk of recurrence and mortality and increase the quality of life after treatment for prostate cancer patients.
Smoking cessation is one of the most important interventions to prevent cancer and it is also essential after the diagnosis of prostate cancer to improve clinical outcomes. All prostate cancer patients should be advised to quit tobacco use since it can potentially improve treatment response rates and survival, as well as reduce the risk of developing treatment complications and potentially improve the quality of life after treatment. There are several benefits to smoking cessation and it should become an important component of the cancer care continuum in all oncology programmes, starting from prevention of cancer through diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and palliative care. Evidence-based smoking cessation intervention should be sustainably integrated into any comprehensive cancer programme, and the information should be targeted to the specific benefits of cessation in cancer patients.
To evaluate the patterns of recurrence following postoperative conformal radiotherapy (RT) for intracranial meningioma.
Materials and methods:
Eighty-six patients who received conformal RT for intracranial meningiomas from 2014 to 2017 were retrospectively analysed. For documented recurrences, recurrence imaging was deformably co-registered to planning CT scan. In-field recurrence was defined as recurrence within the 90% isodose line, and out-of-field recurrences were those that occurred outside the 90% isodose line. We present the demographic details, surgical and RT details, outcomes and patterns of recurrence.
The median age was 46 years (range 17–72); 82·6% underwent surgery [46·5% had subtotal resection (STR), 43·7% gross tumour resection (GTR), 5·6% biopsy] and 17·4% had no surgery. Among these, 53·5% were WHO grade 2; 27·9% grade 1; and 1·2% grade 3 meningioma. Fifty per cent received stereotactic RT (SRT), 46·5% 3D conformal RT (3DCRT) and 3·5% intensity-modulated RT (IMRT). The mean clinical target volume (CTV) and planning target volume (PTV) margins were 4·5 mm (range 0–15) and 3·9 mm (range 1–5), respectively. The doses ranged from 54 to 59·4 Gy. The median follow-up after RT was 1·7 years (range 0·2–4·7). 17·4% were lost to follow-up, 5·4% had recurrence, and the median time to recurrence after completion of RT was 2 years (range 0·7–2·9). The 3-year recurrence-free rate was 81·5%. Three patients had in-field and two had in-field and out-of-field recurrence. Among the cases with recurrence, three received SRT, one 3DCRT and one IMRT. Four were grade 2 and one was grade 3 tumour, and the CTV margin ranged from 0 to 5 mm, and the PTV margin ranged from 3 to 5 mm.
Local recurrence was seen in grade 2 and 3 meningiomas. SRT probably had more recurrence as they had lesser CTV margin. Increased CTV margin, escalated dose up to 59·4 Gy and 3DCRT/IMRT may be helpful in preventing local recurrences in grade 2 and grade 3 meningiomas.