Anatomy changes assessed for proton therapy

Researchers in the Netherlands have developed a population-based statistical model that could improve proton treatment plans for lung cancer patients. The method assesses the daily anatomical variations of the thorax, and complements other methods that account for device uncertainty and respiratory motion (Radiother. Oncol. 123 99).

Proton therapy is similar to conventional radiotherapy in that it is used to destroy tumours, but in principle has a finite range that spares surrounding healthy tissue. Such precision, however, can be thwarted by a patient’s changing anatomy during a treatment plan. To avoid missing the tumour, radiotherapists will sometimes expand the target of radiation over the course of treatment, but studies have shown this method to be insufficient for proton therapy, as it can still end up delivering too little radiation to the tumour and too much radiation to healthy tissue, worsening side effects. The problem is more acute for lung cancer patients, as the contrast in tissue density in the thorax is much greater. […]

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