New Type of Radiation Shortens Treatment Time

Prostate cancer treatment time shortened with volume modulated arc therapy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat prostate cancer. Some forms of this therapy can be quite time-consuming, requiring 20 to 40 daily visits. A new type of radiation can reduce that time and possibly improve treatment effectiveness.

A form of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) that uses so-called volume-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) reduces treatment time by about 14 percent. These time savings don’t sacrifice effectiveness. In fact, quality may actually be improved with VMAT, according to a recently published study.

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The research was conducted at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta. William A. Hall, MD, was the lead investigator.

"Given the time requirement by patients for daily prostate cancer treatment, we aimed to measure the true efficiency of VMAT treatment compared with IMRT using custom institutional software to record the actual in-room times," Dr. Hall said in a press release announcing the study results.

The study measured the amount of time patients were in the treatment room – from entry to exit.  A total of 143 patients were involved in the study – 99 of whom underwent IMRT and 44 of whom had VMAT.

Researchers found that men undergoing VMAT treatment were in the room an average of 12.6 ± 2.62 minutes compared to 14.69 ± 4.36 min for those undergoing IMRT.

In addition to the time savings, the authors noted that the abbreviated time could reduce the possibility of the prostate moving during treatment, which is technically called “intrafraction motion.” They wrote, “Greater intrafraction motion invariably leads to less accurate treatment delivery and the potential for greater normal tissue toxicity.”

dailyRx News spoke with prostate cancer specialist, E. David Crawford, MD, professor of surgery, urology, and radiation oncology, and head of the Section of Urologic Oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) in Denver. "We have witnessed enormous progress in the delivery of radiation to the prostate in the past several decades. Radiation oncologists have been able to deliver higher doses, which improve both local control and survival, while reducing the complications. IMRT has emerged as as one of the most popular techniques, nevertheless it is costly and time consuming. The use of VMAT may improve outcomes, and hopefully will reduce the costs," said Dr. Crawford.

This study was published in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

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Review Date: 
February 5, 2013
Last Updated:
February 8, 2013