ATLANTA, March 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The future of cancer care with radiation oncology is likely to involve more data analytics; new, more precise methods for delivering stereotactic radiosurgery; and more advanced imaging and motion management techniques. Some 150 researchers from leading clinics around the world shared their ideas last week at a symposium on research funded by Varian Medical Systems (NYSE:VAR).
"Researchers are developing, testing, and validating new innovations, concepts, and protocols that could become tomorrow's standards of care," said Patrick Kupelian, MD, professor of radiation oncology and vice-chair of clinical operations and clinical research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). "This symposium provided an opportunity for leaders in radiation oncology to collaborate on a wide range of topics that offer the potential to improve the precision and efficiency of cancer care with radiation oncology."
Dr. Kupelian was part of a team that presented a prototype tele-health system it developed for collecting outcome information directly from patients to improve the quality and usefulness of data aggregated in cancer registries.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery A Hot Topic
A new level of treatment precision may be possible through a novel method that, for the first time, enables integrated and simultaneous movement of the linear accelerator and the treatment table, according to Ke Sheng, PhD, associate professor of medical physics at UCLA and member of Varian's SRS-SBRT Clinical Council, an advisory board that helps to conduct research, provide clinical guidance, and evaluate new techniques to simplify high-precision SRS-SBRT treatments while making them more efficient and accessible to more clinics. Sheng presented his team's work on a concept called "4pi radiotherapy," which involves increasing the number of beam angles available for a treatment, making it possible to focus more radiation on the tumor while better protecting the surrounding tissues and organs.
Other research groups made presentations on new stereotactic radiosurgery methods for prostate, breast, pancreatic, and lung cancer.
Another member of Varian's SRS-SBRT Council, Richard Popple, PhD, professor of medical physics at the UAB School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama, described ways of using 3-D cameras and computer modeling to enhance patient safety during treatment, particularly with complex treatments such as 4pi radiotherapy that involve many moving parts. Dr. Popple's work has the potential to enhance patient safety and could enable these high precision treatments to become standard practice outside of the academic setting. "The symposium sparked conversations and discussions among researchers and Varian engineers that will help us devise solutions that can advance radiation therapy globally," said Popple.
Knowledge-Based Treatment Planning and Quality Assurance
Several researchers presented on the use of knowledge-based treatment planning models to increase both the speed and quality of treatment planning, which is still a relatively time-consuming aspects of radiotherapy treatment design. One researcher, Martha Matuszak, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, showed a RapidPlan® model that her team developed for expediting and standardizing quality in radiosurgery treatment plans for spinal lesions.
In a blinded study comparing automated knowledge-based and manually developed treatment plans for the same set of intracranial radiosurgery cases, experienced doctors outright preferred the knowledge-based plans 70 percent of the time and 13 percent of the time could discern no differences between the automated and manually planned treatments, according to Kevin Moore, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. "We anticipate that the ongoing development of RapidPlan treatment planning models will help to spread best practices in radiosurgery to more clinics around the world," Moore said.
Automated daily patient treatment chart checks—an important quality assurance step in radiation oncology—were the focus of a research team from Emory University in Atlanta. The Emory team has developed, and is now testing, a system that checks all the treatment parameters that are routinely checked manually by a clinical physicist. "Performing chart checks manually has a number of shortfalls, such as the potential for human error and limits to the number of parameters that can be checked in a timely fashion," said Anees Dhabaan, PhD, associate professor of medical physics at Emory University in Atlanta. "We are working to show that an automated chart check system is feasible and could offer huge potential in the improvement of quality assurance procedures in radiation oncology."
Imaging and Motion Management
Presentations about imaging techniques covered such topics as dual-energy imaging to enhance the quality of image-guided radiotherapy treatments for lung and other cancers. Marc Kachelriess, PhD, of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, presented a potential technique for generating 3-D images that display both respiratory and cardiac motion in order to enhance precision when treating tumors affected by both types of motion. Christopher Williams, PhD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, demonstrated a novel technique that promises to be able to generate a 3D image from a single 2D projection, which would enable visualization of internal organ motion during treatment and precise recording of where the radiation dose was delivered.
Other presentations covered research projects involving strategies for dealing with tumor motion during treatment, including markerless tumor tracking, and the use of electromagnetic beacon transponders.
Varian's Commitment to Research and Development
"Varian holds this research symposium roughly every two years, and the caliber of the presentations is quite impressive," said Scott Johnson, PhD, director of research collaborations at Varian. "It's a great opportunity for investigators to talk with each other, test out their ideas, and obtain useful input from colleagues. These researchers are doing very exciting work and the potential to improve cancer care with radiotherapy is tremendous."
"The Varian Research Partnership Symposium represents a positive model of how industry and academia can work together to move cancer research forward, and to catalyze new developments that will ultimately help in the fight against cancer," said Arno J. Mundt, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences at the University of California, San Diego.
About Varian Medical Systems
Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, focuses energy on saving lives by equipping the world with advanced technology for fighting cancer and for X-ray imaging. The company is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is also a premier supplier of X-ray imaging components, including tubes, digital detectors, and image processing software and workstations for use in medical, scientific, and industrial settings, as well as for security and non-destructive testing. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 6,800 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit www.varian.com or follow us on Twitter.
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SOURCE Varian Medical Systems