On June 29, 2018, physicists and dosimetrists from all over North America competed to create the highest quality lung stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) treatment plan using Eclipse™ treatment planning software. Sponsored by Varian, one of the goals of the competition was to inspire users to think about improving plan quality using the latest tools in Eclipse 15.5.
“The plan challenge was definitely one of the hardest cases used in a public study to date. It required the participant to focus on every structure as well as the efficiency of delivery,” stated physicist winner Jonathan Stenbeck, MS, who works at Greenville Health System sites throughout South Carolina. “With only four hours to finish a treatment plan, this represented a realistic timeline for a patient. These plan challenges have been slowly building a network of treatment planners across the globe to discuss methods to improve quality. Additionally, having Varian invest the resources to sponsor a challenge increases the platform for these discussions and will help continue to grow the network of customers trying to do better work.”
Contestants began the contest without any prior access to information about the body site, physician prescription, or the plan scoring algorithm to be used. They received this information only after they logged into the cloud-based system provided by ProKnow, LLC, which offers online analytical tools designed to help improve the standard of care in radiation oncology.
“I thought the contest was very challenging, yet practical to our day-to-day routine,” said dosimetrist winner, Christopher Croft, CMD, who works at Atlanta Cancer Treatment Centers of America, in Newnan, Georgia. “This was the first time I participated in a timed competition. It really challenges you to adapt and think on your feet to produce a clinically relevant plan in a short turnaround time, which I thought was very relevant to our profession.”
Varian Plan Challenge winners were announced at the 2018 American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Stenbeck presented his winning plan at the meeting, and Croft presented his during a webinar on August 15--National Medical Dosimetrists Day--in conjunction with the AAMD. “It was a very rewarding experience, and I cannot thank Varian enough for allowing me the opportunity to share some tips with other dosimetrists who strive to continually become better at their craft,” Croft said.