ASTRO, ACR issue radiotherapy guidelines

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Through a collaborative effort by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the American College of Radiology (ACR), practice guidelines for image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) have been created and released to assist practitioners in providing appropriate radiologic care for patients.

According to the document, the guidelines, which were published the February issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, will define quality criteria in view of the high technically demands of SBRT. 

SBRT, a type of external-beam radiation therapy that can be completed in one to five days rather than several weeks and is commonly used for small tumors, is a relatively new form of treatment that requires strict protocols for quality assurance, said the authors.

Guidelines for this treatment method include:
  • Qualifications and responsibilities of personnel, including the radiation oncologist, qualified medical physicist and the radiation therapist;
  • Specifications of the procedure;
  • Simulation and treatment, including positioning and immobilization, respiratory tracking control techniques, treatment delivery verification and follow up; and
  • Quality control and improvement, safety, infection control and patient education of images and a treatment planning system.

IGRT is a treatment method that uses digitally reconstructed images of a treatment area to direct radiation to a tumor. The authors noted that radiation therapy administration has evolved in recent years, and methods of imaging a tumor or target volume within a patient has been coupled with treatment delivery technology that allows near-simultaneous localization of the tumor and repositioning of the patient.

The guidelines for this therapy included:
  • Qualifications and responsibilities of personnel, including radiation oncologists, qualified medical physicists, medical dosimetrists and the radiation therapists;
  • IGRT implementation, including image acquisition and treatment verification; and
  • Quality control and improvement, safety, infection control and patient education of images and a treatment planning system.

"Since radiation treatments are constantly evolving, it's important that we provide members of the radiation oncology treatment team with guidance on how to best administer treatments," said Louis Potters, MD, an author of the guidelines. "While it is up to a physician to determine the best and most appropriate care for his or her patients, we hope that these guidelines help to set a standard of quality that ensures patients are receiving optimal care."