Research Articles (Radiation Oncology)


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    The silent pandemic in South Africa : extra-pulmonary tuberculosis from head to heel
    (AOSIS, 2021-04) Le Roux, Camilla E.; Vlok, Sucari S. C.
    Extra-pulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is the leading cause of communicable disease-related deaths in people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) worldwide and in South Africa. Mycobacterium tuberculosis disseminates haematogenously from an active primary lung focus and may affect extra-pulmonary sites in up to 15% of patients. Extra-pulmonary TB may present with a normal chest radiograph, which often causes a significant diagnostic dilemma. This review describes the main sites of involvement in EPTB, which is illustrated by local imaging examples.
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    Automated radiation treatment planning for cervical cancer
    (Elsevier, 2020-10) Rhee, Dong Joo; Jhingran, Anuja; Kisling, Kelly; Cardenas, Carlos; Simonds, Hannah; Court, Laurence
    The radiation treatment-planning process includes contouring, planning, and reviewing the final plan, and each component requires substantial time and effort from multiple experts. Automation of treatment planning can save time and reduce the cost of radiation treatment, and potentially provides more consistent and better quality plans. With the recent breakthroughs in computer hardware and artificial intelligence technology, automation methods for radiation treatment planning have achieved a clinically acceptable level of performance in general. At the same time, the automation process should be developed and evaluated independently for different disease sites and treatment techniques as they are unique from each other. In this article, we will discuss the current status of automated radiation treatment planning for cervical cancer for simple and complex plans and corresponding automated quality assurance methods. Furthermore, we will introduce Radiation Planning Assistant, a web-based system designed to fully automate treatment planning for cervical cancer and other treatment sites.
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    Fully automatic treatment planning for external-beam radiation therapy of locally advanced cervical cancer : a tool for low-resource clinics
    (American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2019) Kisling, Kelly; Zhang, Lifei; Simonds, Hannah M.; Fakie, Nazia; Yang, Jinzhong; McCarroll, Rachel; Balter, Peter; Burger, Hester; Bogler, Oliver; Howell, Rebecca; Schmeler, Kathleen; Mejia, Mike; Beadle, Beth M.; Jhingran, Anuja; Court, Laurence
    PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to validate a fully automatic treatment planning system for conventional radiotherapy of cervical cancer. This system was developed to mitigate staff shortages in low-resource clinics. METHODS: In collaboration with hospitals in South Africa and the United States, we have developed the Radiation Planning Assistant (RPA), which includes algorithms for automating every step of planning: delineating the body contour, detecting the marked isocenter, designing the treatment-beam apertures, and optimizing the beam weights to minimize dose heterogeneity. First, we validated the RPA retrospectively on 150 planning computed tomography (CT) scans. We then tested it remotely on 14 planning CT scans at two South African hospitals. Finally, automatically planned treatment beams were clinically deployed at our institution. RESULTS: The automatically and manually delineated body contours agreed well (median mean surface dis- tance, 0.6 mm; range, 0.4 to 1.9 mm). The automatically and manually detected marked isocenters agreed well (mean difference, 1.1 mm; range, 0.1 to 2.9 mm). In validating the automatically designed beam apertures, two physicians, one from our institution and one from a South African partner institution, rated 91% and 88% of plans acceptable for treatment, respectively. The use of automatically optimized beam weights reduced the maximum dose significantly (median, −1.9%; P , .001). Of the 14 plans from South Africa, 100% were rated clinically acceptable. Automatically planned treatment beams have been used for 24 patients with cervical cancer by physicians at our institution, with edits as needed, and its use is ongoing. CONCLUSION: We found that fully automatic treatment planning is effective for cervical cancer radiotherapy and may provide a reliable option for low-resource clinics. Prospective studies are ongoing in the United States and are planned with partner clinics.
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    Automated treatment planning of postmastectomy radiotherapy
    (American Association of Physicists in Medicine, 2019-05-11) Kisling, Kelly; Zhang, Lifei; Shaitelman, Simona F.; Anderson, David; Thebe, Tselane; Yang, Jinzhong; Balter, Peter A.; Howell, Rebecca M.; Jhingran, Anuja; Schmeler, Kathleen; Simonds, Hannah; Du Toit, Monique; Trauernicht, Christoph; Burger, Hester; Botha, Kobus; Joubert, Nanette; Beadle, Beth M.; Court, Laurence
    Purpose: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women globally and radiation therapy is a cornerstone of its treatment. However, there is an enormous shortage of radiotherapy staff, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This shortage could be ameliorated through increased automation in the radiation treatment planning process, which may reduce the workload on radiotherapy staff and improve efficiency in preparing radiotherapy treatments for patients. To this end, we sought to create an automated treatment planning tool for postmastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT). Methods: Algorithms to automate every step of PMRT planning were developed and integrated into a commercial treatment planning system. The only required inputs for automated PMRT planning are a planning computed tomography scan, a plan directive, and selection of the inferior border of the tangential fields. With no other human input, the planning tool automatically creates a treatment plan and presents it for review. The major automated steps are (a) segmentation of relevant structures (targets, normal tissues, and other planning structures), (b) setup of the beams (tangential fields matched with a supraclavicular field), and (c) optimization of the dose distribution by using a mix of high- and low-energy photon beams and field-in-field modulation for the tangential fields. This automated PMRT planning tool was tested with ten computed tomography scans of patients with breast cancer who had received irradiation of the left chest wall. These plans were assessed quantitatively using their dose distributions and were reviewed by two physicians who rated them on a three-tiered scale: use as is, minor changes, or major changes. The accuracy of the automated segmentation of the heart and ipsilateral lung was also assessed. Finally, a plan quality verification tool was tested to alert the user to any possible deviations in the quality of the automatically created treatment plans. Results: The automatically created PMRT plans met the acceptable dose objectives, including target coverage, maximum plan dose, and dose to organs at risk, for all but one patient for whom the heart objectives were exceeded. Physicians accepted 50% of the treatment plans as is and required only minor changes for the remaining 50%, which included the one patient whose plan had a high heart dose. Furthermore, the automatically segmented contours of the heart and ipsilateral lung agreed well with manually edited contours. Finally, the automated plan quality verification tool detected 92% of the changes requested by physicians in this review. Conclusions: We developed a new tool for automatically planning PMRT for breast cancer, including irradiation of the chest wall and ipsilateral lymph nodes (supraclavicular and level III axillary). In this initial testing, we found that the plans created by this tool are clinically viable, and the tool can alert the user to possible deviations in plan quality. The next step is to subject this tool to prospective testing, in which automatically planned treatments will be compared with manually planned treatments.
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    A risk assessment of automated treatment planning and recommendations for clinical deployment
    (American Association of Physicists in Medicine, 2019-06) Kisling, Kelly; Johnson, Jennifer L.; Simonds, Hannah M.; Zhang, Lifei; Jhingran, Anuja; Beadle, Beth M.; Burger, Hester; Du Toit, Monique; Joubert, Nanette; Makufa, Remigio; Shaw, William; Trauernicht, Christoph; Balter, Peter; Howell, Rebecca M.; Schmeler, Kathleen; Court, Laurence
    Purpose: To assess the risk of failure of a recently developed automated treatment planning tool, the radiation planning assistant (RPA), and to determine the reduction in these risks with implementation of a quality assurance (QA) program specifically designed for the RPA. Methods: We used failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to assess the risk of the RPA. The steps involved in the workflow of planning a four-field box treatment of cervical cancer with the RPA were identified. Then, the potential failure modes at each step and their causes were identified and scored according to their likelihood of occurrence, severity, and likelihood of going undetected. Additionally, the impact of the components of the QA program on the detectability of the failure modes was assessed. The QA program was designed to supplement a clinic's standard QA processes and consisted of three components: (a) automatic, independent verification of the results of automated planning; (b) automatic comparison of treatment parameters to expected values; and (c) guided manual checks of the treatment plan. A risk priority number (RPN) was calculated for each potential failure mode with and without use of the QA program. Results: In the RPA automated treatment planning workflow, we identified 68 potential failure modes with 113 causes. The average RPN was 91 without the QA program and 68 with the QA program (maximum RPNs were 504 and 315, respectively). The reduction in RPN was due to an improvement in the likelihood of detecting failures, resulting in lower detectability scores. The top-ranked failure modes included incorrect identification of the marked isocenter, inappropriate beam aperture definition, incorrect entry of the prescription into the RPA plan directive, and lack of a comprehensive plan review by the physician. Conclusions: Using FMEA, we assessed the risks in the clinical deployment of an automated treatment planning workflow and showed that a specialized QA program for the RPA, which included automatic QA techniques, improved the detectability of failures, reducing this risk. However, some residual risks persisted, which were similar to those found in manual treatment planning, and human error remained a major cause of potential failures. Through the risk analysis process, we identified three key aspects of safe deployment of automated planning: (a) user training on potential failure modes; (b) comprehensive manual plan review by physicians and physicists; and (c) automated QA of the treatment plan.