Conformal radiotherapy is a sophisticated method of external beam radiation which requires research relating to definition of target volumes, quantification of benefits from refined treatment planning methods, implementation and assessment of new radiation beam delivery techniques and careful quality assurance to ensure the safety of new techniques in a clinical context. The improvements in radiotherapy are two-fold; first the exclusion of normal tissues from the beam can reduce the risk of radiation side-effects and secondly greater precision may allow radiation dose escalation with the possible improvement of tumour control. Our research, especially in prostate cancer, breast cancer and central nervous system tumours, has been to apply conformal radiotherapy in selected situations, to optimise techniques and evaluate the benefit of these approaches to the health service. This research on physical optimisation of radiotherapy is complemented by the studies of the Radiotherapy Research Laboratories on avoidance, or treatment, of radiation induced normal tissue toxicity. Clinical research within the Trust has paved the way to introduce to standard practice nationally portal imaging and automated multileaf collimation technologies and also includes studies to enhance symptom control and quality of life of cancer patients.
This year heralded the start of a new five year programme grant from The Cancer Research Campaign jointly to the Sections of Academic Radiotherapy and to the Radiotherapy Group within the Joint Department of Physics to develop conformal radiotherapy techniques and especially, intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). As a consequence of our development of stereotactic techniques for the radiotherapy of brain tumours, Dr Brada is principal investigator of a multinational EORTC/MRC Phase III trial evaluating stereotactic radiation boost following conventional treatment of gliomas. Theoretical studies have been completed of the value of IMRT to treat a number of sites including thyroid gland, salivary gland, nasopharynx and pelvic lymph nodes. Our Clinical Research Fellow in conformal radiotherapy, Chris Nutting won the Rohan Williams prize of the Royal College of Radiologists to visit leading American Centres and also won the Finzi prize from the Royal Society of Medicine for a presentation on the imaging basis of conformal radiotherapy.
Highlights of 1999
Partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Trust Department