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More Radiotherapy Motion Could Improve Aim

December 18, 2013
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Taking patients for a ride, sort of, could allow more precise targeting during radiation therapy and spare healthy tissue, according to a British study published last month in Physics in Medicine and Biology.

The research team came from The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, both in London, and the University of Surrey in Guildford. The new technique involves moving not only the radiation beam but also the couch on which the patient lies. James Bedford, PhD, the study leader and senior author, explained the advantage:

This technique allows us to maximize the dose to the tumor while steering the radiation beam around the sensitive normal tissues. It will be of particular value for patients whose tumors are located near to radiation-sensitive organs.

Dr. Bedford was quoted in a news release from the institute.

The idea is to create a computer-controlled couch that can move in three dimensions. During radiotherapy, a computer would guide both beam and couch so that radiation could be precisely targeted at tumor cells. Doctors could control the angle, dose rate, and shape of the beam.

The researchers used computer modeling to determine that such a technique could provide the following dose reductions, compared to current methods, for the following four types of radiotherapy:

  • Breast (partial): 53 percent less radiation to the area of the heart
  • Brain: 61 percent and 77 percent less radiation to the left and right eye lenses, respectively, and 37 percent and 40 percent less radiation to the left and right eyes as a whole
  • Prostate: 15 percent less radiation to the bowel
  • Prostate and pelvic lymph nodes: 45 percent less radiation to the bowel

“The advantage of our proposed system is that it improves on radiotherapy machines already widely available,” said Dr. Bedford. “It’s the natural progression for these devices. … Furthermore, treatment would only take a few minutes, which is more comfortable for the patient and improves accuracy.”

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Related CME seminar (up to 8.5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): ALARA – CT (As Low As Reasonably Achievable)

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